India. Bihar: Museums play an important role in preserving local culture and showcasing heritage and history. One can see and understand different cultural backgrounds here and enjoy the artifacts, precious pieces of art, and numerous things that depict our rich past. Keeping this in mind, the Bihar Museum has announced the first-ever ‘Bihar Museum Biennale’ which will be held from 22-28 March.
Organized by the Department of Arts, Culture and Youth Affairs, Government of Bihar, the Museum Biennale will open on March 22 on the auspicious occasion of Bihar Divas. The museum will showcase the richness and treasures of Indian museums and also bring together a highlight of key collections from various museums across the world.
Aiming to sensitize the significance of a museum culture
The Museum Biennale aims to sensitize the public to the importance and significance of museum culture in India and facilitate an understanding of our culture, building a strong sense of identity, nationhood, and the self.
The inauguration will be held at the Bihar Museum in presence of Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, Anjani Kumar Singh, the Nodal Officer of the Bihar Museum, and Advisor to the Chief Minister and Deepak Anand, Director, Bihar Museum, and other dignitaries. The publication, Bihar, India and the World: Celebrating Museum Collections, which comprises detailed information of the 12 primary national participating museums, will also be launched at the inaugural event.
Speaking about the initiative Honorable Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar said, “Bihar Museum is a cultural hub dedicated to the spirit of inquiry, exploration, and creativity of the people of Bihar and the world. The soft power of art and culture has a special space of engagement in our development strategy for Bihar. Bihar Museum Biennale is a step forward to highlight the rich heritage of India and bring alive the extraordinary history of Bihar and also celebrate the cultural narratives from various parts of the world.”
The Biennale is anticipated by art lovers and visitors as a key initiative of Bihar’s cultural calendar of 2021. Initially conceived as a physical, three-month-long event, the Biennale will now be held as a hybrid event – physical and digital, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the course of the seven days, especially curated virtual tours of the participating national and international museums will be streamed online as well as at the Bihar Museum in Patna.
Celebrating the uniqueness of Indian museums
The Biennale will also witness the participation of eminent personalities like Neil MacGregor, a British art historian who will be a key note speaker at the event; Hilary Knight, Director of Digital, Tate Galleries, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director-General of CSMVS, Mumbai; Javier Baron, Museo del Prado among others.
According to the Nodal Officer of the Bihar Museum and Advisor to the Chief Minister of Bihar, Anjani Kumar Singh, “Bihar Museum has been a project very close to my heart, driven by a personal passion to create a cultural retreat for the people of Bihar to revel in the historic past. Under the vision and guidance of our honorable Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar, Bihar Museum Biennale is our initiative to celebrate the strengths and uniqueness of museums from India and around the world fostering an inclusive culture and bringing a global internationalism to a national identity.”
The participating museums
The participating museums from India are Assam State Museum; Bihar Museum, Patna; City Palace Museum, Udaipur; Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai; Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal; Kanha Museum of Life and Art, MP; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi; Museo Camera, Gurgaon; Museum of Art & Photography, Bengaluru; Museum of Goa, Panaji; National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; Piramal Museum, Mumbai; Virasat-e-Khalsa, Anandpur Sahib.
Visitors who will physically be present at the Bihar Museum will be free to embark on a curated, audio-guided tour of the highlights of the collection.
Each collection has its own story
Dr. Alka Pande, project director of the Museum Biennale, feels, “As an art historian, I can say that the soul of India, the heart of India in many ways is Bihar, whether it’s Pataliputra or Magadha. Bihar Museum Biennale will be an opportunity to bring out a compendium of the Indian museums, and to celebrate their respective collections, each telling its own story.”
The display of public art has changed over the last few years, and has experienced a significant shift from the post-colonial to contemporary cultures of display. To explore these changing modes of display and perception of museums, the inauguration of the Bihar Museum Biennale will be followed by a 2-day international virtual conference.
The conference is aimed at viewing the museum as a site of incubation, inventiveness, and ideas. Each session has been specially created to initiate a discourse around the cultural objects of the museums of antiquities, of modern art, of contemporary art, and the vision for future museums, which will now be hybrid –physical and digital and experiential.
Other activities of the Bihar Museum Biennale will include hosting virtual lectures and masterclasses on the art and culture of Bihar and India by noted personalities from India and around the world.