Establishment of Birla Academy of Art and Culture Museum
The great connoisseurs of art and industrial icons Sri Basant Kumar Birla and wife Sarala Birla adopted the initiative. This exuberant couple gathered exclusive and precious materials of art. This substantial collection is invested with a historical aura. To retain this interest in maintaining the reserves, a public Charitable Trust was founded in 1962 to ensure collection and preservation of things for public consciousness in the museum. The Birla Academy of Art and Culture Museum is located at Rabindra Sarovar, Kolkata.
Collections at Birla Academy of Art and Culture Museum
Birla Academy of Art and Culture Museum has a diligently organized art gallery speaking volumes for the resplendent cultural traditions and artistic endeavors prevalent in India. It exhibits in a colourful and vivid fashion, the profoundly meaningful medieval and contemporary art of India. This celebration of Indian art acknowledges the expression and prowess of eminent artistes, whose evocative works spark that emotional trigger in every observer.
The outstanding painting creations of the medieval times, wood sculptures, manuscripts of archaeological importance, textiles and ancient Indian sculptures happen to be the gems of the Birla Academy of Art & Culture Museum in Kolkata. It keeps on display sculptures and manuscripts that range from the 2nd to the 19th century AD.
The repertory of sculptures at the Birla Academy of Art & Culture Museum includes South Indian sculptures, specifically belonging to the Chola and Vijayanagara empires.
Simply splendid are the granite icons of Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva as Jnana Dakshinamurti (Giver of Knowledge), pertaining to the 12th Century AD, Chola era. There also remains in store a wonderful eight-armed posited Kali statue, belonging to the Vijayanagara regime.
The Rajasthani wonders involve a bust of Lord Vishnu, made of green limestone. Built with the same material, three panels representing Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna and Goddess Saraswati amidst followers, reside in the museum.
The Birla Academy of Art & Culture Museum inhabits a prized repository of miniatures and manuscripts. The amazing treasure of manuscripts comprises a Persian version of the Mahabharata, composed in 1811; the melodious and harmonious assemblage of the 19th century Hafiz ghazals, composed in the Mughal style and a photocopy of the Shabnama. Moreover, the museum preserves the significant 13th century Jain palm leaf-folios, innately linked with the cities Bundi and Kota, in Western India. An eye-catching miniature of Lord Krishna and an informative Urdu manuscript with illustrations on agriculture have been derived from two different Sikh schools.
The miniature paintings from Rajasthan project an aesthetically beautiful sequence of ragas. A touch of refined grace is evident in the miniature from Kangra, focusing a seated couple draped in shawls, giving the observer a feel of the winter month Magh, through the apt portraiture and mellowed hues.
The remaining multifarious items consist of metal carvings, book covers made of papier-mache and gilded with silver, thereby giving a rich look. The grandeur of this collection is further augmented with bygone textiles such as the artistic Jamawar shawls, Banaras brocades, Baluchari and Dacca saris and a silk Pichhwai from Rajasthan.
Terracotta artifacts, anthropological specimens and varied art collection of national and international acclaim add to the wealth of the exhibits all accumulated in the Birla Academy of Art & Culture Museum.
Exhibitions at Birla Academy of Art and Culture Museum
To give this artistic enterprise a greater dimension and exposure, art exhibitions have been made a daily affair in the Birla Academy of Art & Culture Museum. A distinctive achievement of this academy has been the presentation of a few internationally relevant exhibitions, of which the most memorable is the show of the towering achievements of the outstanding French sculptor Rodin. This was a crowning glory for the aesthetically enthusiastic Kolkata. Other notable exhibits included the works of the renowned artist and sculptor Henry Moore and the Graphics of Picasso. It has also hosted Russian festival shows, German Expressionists' graphics, spectacular French designs and also American, Chinese and British porcelains.
One of the most red-lettered accomplishments on the part of the Birla Academy of Art & Culture Museum's Board of Management was the airing of the much famous and talked about American plays "Once Upon a Mattress" and "Driving Miss Daisy". They entered into collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the American Library (formerly the United States Information Service Library), to emerge successful in this grand venture. The museum continues to maintain liaison with foreign organizations and authorities to engage in more such ventures and organize internationally relevant exhibitions.
The young talent in this sometimes veiled field of art receives its greatest opportunity of blooming, under the liberal patronage of the Academy’s Board of Management. The yearly All India exhibitions, one man performance shows, group shows and Kalamelas are held at regular intervals to sustain the spree of providing the stairs of improvement in life and career, to the budding talents. Cultural shows of performing arts are also arranged for once in every month.
The Birla Academy of Art & Culture Museum is sensitively empathetic towards the industrious and resourceful. Hence, it permits artists, art societies and cultural communities to indulge in artistic programmes, in its gallery and auditorium, at nominal rent rates.
The Academy also organizes educational courses and awareness programmes, lectures and seminars, film shows, workshops and art cognizance training.
The Academy accommodates a well-equipped library, full of relevant and useful top-ranking books on art, journals and periodicals, meant for public enlightenment.
The Birla Academy of Art & Culture Museum opens its doors for visitors from 3 pm to 8 pm, attracting art lovers and enthusiasts universally to its expansive and diverse repertoire.
The Birla Academy of Art and Culture Museum, Kolkata, also financially aids other agencies in organizing programmes on art and culture. Needless to say, the museum is a standing embodiment of the aesthete character and perspective of the Birlas, and their vision to catapult the art and cultural richness of India, and its awareness and popularity, to greater and greater heights.
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