Kolkata, with her charm and beauty is also a part of art and culture not only of India but the whole world. Going back to the history, it has been found that Sir R.N. Mookerjee, father-in-law of Lady Ranu Mookerjee was the first Chairman of its Executive Committee. The Academy of Fine Arts was build in a small room in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1933 with a loan from the Indian Museum.
In the fifties, a discussion between Sri Jawaharlal Nehru (the then Prime Minister of India) and Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy brought about the idea of building an Art Gallery in an important city like Kolkata and it was in the 1959-60, the premises of The Academy of Fine Arts was build with donation from the Academy`s Board of Trustees.
Comprising of eight galleries, The Academy of Fine Arts is the largest gallery in India and the finest and indeed the oldest one. The Academy houses the finest collection of Sri Abanindranath Tagore and Sri Gaganendra Nath Tagore from 1900. It is a show-house of art, paintings, textiles and a lot more. The oldest textiles from different parts of India are considered as the finer ones. There are also several other galleries such as the Gallery of Miniature Paintings, the Carpet Gallery, the Gallery of Engravings and the Gallery of contemporary Graphics and Line Drawings. These galleries have collections of their own dating to several centuries. Eminent painters like Zoffany, Hodges, and the Danniells are represented there.
The Academy of Fine Arts shifted from the previous location to this new site, under the guidance of Lady Ranoo Mookerjee who chose the site. After this there was no looking back and a new era began in the history of art and sculpture in Bengal. The city`s culturally conscious and artistically inclined people visit this place. The Academy of Fine Arts is counted among the oldest and finest art societies in the country, exhibiting works of artists from all over the world and India. The ground floor of the Academy comprises of eight galleries, which has the fame of being the largest gallery space in India. It showcases a massive collection of paintings, sculptures Indian textiles and so on. Among the galleries, the Rabindra Gallery opened in 1962 contains original paintings of Tagore along with published and unpublished manuscripts in Bengali and English. The Miniatures Gallery contains some authentic Mughal miniatures, which look wonderful and reminds of the Oriental style, in the Textile Gallery we can fine some superb samples of hand-woven fabrics like benarasi silk dhakai, patola, baluchari, brocade, and jamewar shawls. The Contemporary Art Galleries have Indian painting and sculptures from 1900 till the recent time, from a collection of Acharya Abanindranath Tagore and Gaganedra Nath Tagore, their disciples, such as Nandalal Bose, Asit Kumar Haldar etc, again their disciples like Benod Behari Mukherjee, Sudhir Khastagir, Sarada Ukil, Ram Kinkar Beij and many others. These paintings displayed many different characteristic of Indian art including `cubism` and other contemporary styles. In the Gallery of Engravings on India, renowned painters like Hodges, Zoffany, Sir Charles O D`oyly and the Danniells find a place, they all belonged to the era of painting in 18th and 19th Centuries. Finding the need to accommodate a growing collection, a new part was added in 1982, comprising galleries where the display is not permanent. There is a Gallery of contemporary Graphics and Line Drawings as well.
Several activities in the Academy involve conducting of exhibitions, organizing lectures, publishing booklets, bulletins, catalogues and literature on the matter of art. The subsidiary activities include, sketching and sculpture studios at the back of the garden. There is also a Studio-cum-Sketching Club in the Academy since 1957 for the benefit of the working artists. Moreover, there is also a children`s section from the age group of 4 to 14 years. The aural of the Academy`s auditorium is among the best in the country.
In 1962, a new gallery in the name of Rabindranath Tagore, known as the `Rabindra Gallery` was opened which consists of several published and unpublished paintings, personal belongings and valuable manuscripts (in English & Bengali).
Till today, the popularity of the Academy has not decreased. Rather it has increased and created a sense of artistic unity and superfluity among art lovers.
Apart from all these, the Government of West Bengal has gifted a mobile Art Van that runs all through the districts of West Bengal with a trained lecturer to show the artist`s representation.
The Academy of Fine Arts is a celebration of art and sculpture, and it provides an opportunity to enjoy paintings and sculpture from all over India. It has a wide-ranging variety that includes abstract art, modern art, tempera wash paintings and many other artistic schools of art. Hence in the cultural scenario of the country, Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata performs a great task in the promotion of art and culture in all its diversity.