Crowded trains, maddening traffic and streets that are lined with garbage — like it or not, these are the sights that greet a typical working class Mumbaikar every morning. While it is convenient to ban thinking about this and go through life gamely, a new event in the city will plan to take up these problems as a challenge and bring about change.
After visiting cities like Berlin and New York, the BMW Guggenheim Lab, is coming to Mumbai for the next six weeks. This project, which was launched in the Guggenheim Museum in New York City last year, essentially acts as a mobile laboratory that travels across the world, to inspire innovative ideas for urban life. The Mumbai chapter will address challenges and opportunities related to public spaces and the choices Mumbaikars make to balance individual (“me”) and community (“we”) interests.
Talking about the venture, the Mumbai lab’s curator David van der Leer says, “The most important outcome of the BMW Guggenheim Lab is for people to begin thinking about and discussing their urban environments. We want to inspire forward-thinking approaches to city life through the engagement and participation of the public at large, not just experts, city leaders and officials.”
In addition to the Mumbai Lab’s main site at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, the free programme is spread across a number of locations in the city, right from south Mumbai to Mulund. At these locations the lab will organise research projects, tours, talks, workshops, cultural activities, etc.
Van der Leer further insists that they always wanted a venue in the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s travels to be in Asia, and after careful deliberation, they selected Mumbai. “This city has a fascinating and complex history. It is the most populous city in India (and the sixth-most populous city in the world). Many urban issues that you can find around the world are more intense here, and for that reason it can offer valuable insights for city dwellers everywhere.”
Ask him if people who participate in the event can organise their own activities at the lab, and he says, “The lab is a functioning think-tank. Even when we are not running a programme, we encourage people to come and hang out during opening hours and engage with the studies that we are undertaking, give feedback to design proposals, or develop your own projects in the space.”
Visit the lab at:
Horniman Circle (Fort): December 13 to 17
Priyadarshini Park (Malabar Hill): December 20 to 23
Sambhaji Park (Mulund East): December 27 to 30
Batliboy Compound (Mill Worker Colony): January 3 to 7
Mahim Beach (Mahim): January 10 to 13
Programmes and events for the Lab are presented in six series—some highly professional, some highly entertaining:
Meet in the Middle brings together public and private stakeholders, from grassroots thinkers to city officials to address and connect six themes: transportation, space, housing, environment, investment, and participatory urban planning.
Bridging encourages people with an interest in the same field, ranging from sports to cooking, from professional experts to laypersons, to share and interact with each other through workshops.
City Dreams, presented by the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, offers interactive family events on the historic development of the cultural landscape of Mumbai.
Film screenings offer classic and contemporary Bollywood favourites, documentaries, animation, and experimental works paired with related discussions about topics.
Food for Thought uses food and drink as a catalyst for conversation about the cultures reflected on the tables and streets of Mumbai, addressing local and global issues in relation with each other.
Unwrapping Mumbai offers new insights about how Mumbaikars adapt to their surroundings through various mediums.