Not far from the gleaming glass and steel towers, tucked away in a nondescript two-storey red-brick building at a residential colony in Gurgaon's Sector 4, a private museum of folk, tribal and neglected arts has been attracting art historians, academicians, art lovers, Fulbright scholars, and foreign dignitaries for the past 25 years. This is Home of Folk Art.
The museum, set up by renowned artist K. C. Aryan in 1984, is likely to move out of the Millennium City soon. "My father tried, till his death in 2002 at the age of 83, to get land from the government at a concessional rate so that he could build a museum in a more accessible place in the city and to preserve and display the art objects properly. I continued the struggle after his death but to no avail," said a dejected B. N. Aryan, son of K. C. Aryan and director of the museum.
Dr Subhashini Aryan, a renowned art historian and his sister, said, "There is a visible lack of awareness and concern for art and heritage in this city; even our neighbours do not know what we are running is a museum; they feel we are running some kind of an antique shop. Now that we are getting no land in Gurgaon, we have decided to shift the museum out of Haryana. The museum is not serving its purpose here."
The museum's relocation could be a big loss for Gurgaon, which otherwise does not have any museum. This museum — spread across four rooms of the two-storey 500-square yard residence of the Aryans — is a treasure trove. Hundreds of rare art objects are hangings on the walls, placed on the floor and hundreds are displayed in wooden cases. The museum has received help from the embassy of Sweden and Spain.
The museum boasts of rich and varied collections from all across the country, especially from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan: thousands of folk and tribal bronze objects, folk paintings, embroideries, tribal wood and stone carvings, litho prints, embroidered folk toys, ethnic jewellery, calico printing wooden blocks, papier-mâché masks, card puppets and utilitarian and ritualistic artifacts.
Some of these objects are almost 800 years old and now extinct in their places of origin. "My father was the first person to raise his concern for the country's neglected artistic and cultural heritage and began collected art objects with a view to preserve them for posterity. Some of the art objects at our museum have never been collected, and but for my father's effort, they would have been lost forever," says Aryan.
In fact, only one-third of the collection is on display, the rest remain packed because of the lack of space. With the entire home serving as display space, the Aryans have virtually no space for themselves.
"We have learnt to live in small space, but problem arises when we some large groups of visitors," says Aryan. He is hopeful that soon he will be able to shift the museum to a suitable building.