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London curator brings Indian life, landscape to city

At the conclusion of the first exhibition from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in the city, director Mark Jones is already anticipating the next alliance with India. Purva Mehra reports.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2009 20:59 IST
Purva Mehra

At the conclusion of the first exhibition from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in the city, director Mark Jones is already anticipating the next alliance with India.

The next India-inspired showcase in October, The Nehru Gallery at the V&A in London will host exhibits of Indian princely patronage from 1750 to 1950, for a show titled Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts.

“Fifty of the 250 pieces are loaned from reigning maharajas and it’s the first time some of these objects will leave India,” said Jones, who has been overseeing the museum for nine years. Jewels, paintings and personal possessions of many Indian rulers will share space with the gallery’s vast collection of Indian art and artifacts that the museum has had in possession since its foundation in 1852.

“There is a continuing and increasing interest in Indian art. We are looking for space in London to expand our Indian collections,” Jones said.

Jones made possible the first showcase of the V&A exhibit on Indian life and landscape by western artists at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya in Mumbai. The exhibition, which saw 1.2 lakh visitors, will conclude on February 8.

The V&A is undergoing a dramatic programme of renewal and restoration to create new galleries and displays. “We’re redisplaying the collections because a particular approach to display becomes dated and dusty,” Jones said.

V&A has also been deputing staff to work with Indian museums to work in partnership on conservation and restoration. “I think the problem here is the environment. It’s hard to preserve paintings in hot, humid temperature but there are well looked after miniatures in India.”

The 57-year-old curator also expressed a desire to exhibit in the future, Indian contemporary design.