The Gurgaon municipal corporation has partnered with a visual historian, collector and renowned photographer to establish a museum for his rare collections of antique photographs and cameras.
Aditya Arya, a Delhi University graduate, has the same model of the cameras that were mounted on the bomber aircraft that dropped atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945. The cameras photographed the damage in the two Japanese cities. He procured the same model from a ragpicker known to him.
Starting in the 1970s, Arya’s hobby of accumulating historical photographs and cameras in the basement of his DLF Phase 3 apartment soon turned into a rare collection of 1,000 cameras that were manufactured between 1880 and 1990. The collection also includes 20,000 original silver prints chronicling India’s freedom movement.
“We have shortlisted a few places. Once finalised, we will open the museum to the public. We are anticipating a large number of people to come and see this rare collection and gain an insight into the evolution of photography,” MCG joint commissioner Vivek Kalia said.
Most of Arya’s collection is self-funded and collected from ragpickers across the world. Some articles were gifted by friends and acquaintances.
Arya boasts of studio, field, and portable cameras of era-defining brands such as Kodak, Leica, Ansco, Zeiss, Graflex and Thornton Pickard.
The 56-year-old curator has a collection from the archives of photojournalist Kulwant Roy. It contains rare photographs of Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi and Sardar Patel in a discussion, Mahatma Gandhi in a debate with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Jacqueline Kennedy (former first lady of the United States of America) sharing a laugh with Nehru, the Indian National Army trials, Nehru bidding farewell to his grandson Rajiv Gandhi as he leaves for a tour, several Congress party and Muslim League meetings, and also photographs from the Sino-Indian War.
Arya is travelling overseas and was unavailable for comment.