The #projectinterpret journey continues with exciting adventures and avid pilots of the project… the interpretation of history through objects figured high on the list!
The fantastic ‘India and the World’ exhibition at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) (formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India) at Mumbai has finally closed. But, with its over 200 objects that were carefully selected from mainly the British Museum, CSMVS and the National Museum, along with other Indian Museums and private collections, the exhibition has left an everlasting impact on the minds of its visitors. The exhibition was conceived by Mr Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director General, CSMVS and Neil McGregor, former Director, British Museum. It was curated by J D Hill, British Museum, and Naman Ahuja, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The exhibition was divided into nine stories: Shared Beginnings, First Cities, Empire, State and Faith, Picturing the Divine, Indian Ocean Traders, Court Cultures, Quest for Freedom and Time Unbound. The objects told stories of the World in context of India, a perspective that we do not usually visualise as we are so used to viewing the World from a level of awe and wonder. We forget that for several centuries the World held us much higher in esteem than we can imagine, not only for our political and economic prowess but for our multiple aesthetic and socio-cultural identities. These identities were formed due to diverse peoples, communities and cultures integrating in one big melting pot called India. Not the political Indian boundary that we know today but the Indian subcontinent of yesteryears.
There were several groups of people who accompanied me to the exhibition. One such group included designers and architects for whom objects unravel multitude of meanings and narratives. It was more of a rediscovery into our past juxtaposed with the present where we juggle between being educators and leaders. But in this tour we all became learners 🙂
Many thanks to Naman Ahuja and J D Hill for making us acutely aware of our mixed identities, of the zenith of cultural advancement India represented to the World, and how the legacy could continue with some introspection.
Thank you CSMVS, British Museum, National Museum, all lending institutions, trusts and individuals and sponsors for leaving us more humbled and speechless.
The day had started on a glorious note, supplemented by vestiges from the past that are intricately interwoven in our today be it in the form of a BEST double decker bus against magnificent trees or cuisine in the form of spicy dabeli or chaat 🙂
Priti Doshi wished history had been taught with seeing and understanding objects when she was in school and not learning by rote and she looks forward to the very light & quirky style of explanation which aroused curiosity in her mind.
Shreyas More had great fun and learning where he discovered the different joy of validation by seeing something he’d actually read about.
Sonam Parvani said she loved hearing stories from history as they were inspiring, funny, relevant – associating the past with the present at the same time.
Praneti Kulkarni and Kunal Sawant are good friends, avid photographers and guides with whom several memories around histories and journeys have already been forged. I’ll never forget the walk through lanes of Lalbaugh with them when Praneti guided us through layers of history of the megapolis through the simple chiwda…
Kiaara Suri, 7 years, went back home re creating scenes from the objects she saw and demonstrating to her mother, Solange, how the weapons were possibly used through swishing of magical swords in the air!
After a catching up session over history, its mysteries and myths, interpretations and associations, we ended up trying to visualise our present through fingerprints from the past…
Through many more such journeys together the brave pilots of #projectinterpret will travel together…