AIIS Holds A Five–day Virtual Workshop on Museum Curation

The AIIS Center for Art & Archaeology (CA&A) organized a five –day Virtual Workshop on Museum Curation (10–14 August 2020), called Strengthening US-India Collaboration with grant support from the Public Affairs Section of the Embassy of the United States in New Delhi. This workshop was designed and led by Dr. Madhuvanti Ghose, Alsdorf associate curator of Indian, Southeast Asian and Himalayan Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, and was developed based on the recommendations of a White Paper that resulted from the U.S. Embassy-supported All India Museum Summit 2019, and which was presented to the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, in November 2019.

This will be the first of two workshops within the U.S.–India Professional Collaboration initiative towards sharing U.S. and Indian best practices in museum curation and exhibition development. After a robust response to the initial announcement, the 15 participants were selected for the workshop from an equity and inclusion perspective. The successful participants hold curatorial positions across India and represent both public and private institutions or are independent curators.

This was a very interactive workshop, structured around a number of sessions. These included an interpretation and labels session where participants were asked create and submit for comment a museum label; a session where participants were asked to develop an exhibition concept and a small checklist; and a session on how to curate a digital exhibition and document it. Participants were given until September to submit their exhibitions with the final (virtual) exhibition to be made live by end of November 2020.

                U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster

The first day opened with addresses by AIIS president Sumathi Ramaswamy; chair of  the AIIS Art & Archaeology committee Dr. Susan Bean; US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster; Raghavendra Singh, the secretary and chief executive officer, Development of Museums and Cultural Spaces, Government of India; and Dr. Madhuvanti Ghose. Lectures included: Dr. Vidya Dehejia (Columbia University, New York,): Reflections on Curating “Devi: The Great Goddess” and Dr. Debra Diamond (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, Washington, D.C.): “History and Affect: Curating Garden & Cosmos.” Concluding remarks on the last day were made by AIIS director-general Purnima Mehta, David Kennedy, the Counselor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Delhi, Dr. Susan Bean, and Dr. Vandana Sinha, the director of the AIIS Center for Art and Archaeology.

Participants included:

Dr. Keka Banerjee Adhikari, curator, Museum at the Asiatic Society, Kolkata

Deepak Bharathan Alathur, assistant curator Bharat Kala Bhavan, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi

Zahid Ali Ansari, deputy curator of the Arms and Armour gallery, National Museum in Delhi

Andali Bharthari, independent heritage interpreter and consultant

Samira Bose, programs coordinator, Asia Art Archive in India, New Delhi

Dr. Suruchika Chawla, supervisor of projects at the Archaeology and Museums Department, Chandigarh, Haryana

Dr. Taranath Dowarah, curator, Anthropological Museum of Indigenous Peoples, Dibrugarh University, Assam

Vaishnavi Kambadur, curatorial assistant, Museum of Art and Photography, Bangalore

Manoj Kumar, curator, Archaeological Museum Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, Hardwar, Uttarakhand

Dr. Munmun Mondal, curator, H.H. Maharaja Sir Jiwajirao Scindia Museum Jai Vilas Palace, Gwalior

Sayali Mundye, outreach and programming, Piramal Museum of Art Mumbai

Shruti Ramlingaiah, independent curator and art writer

Darshan Mekani Shah, founder and trustee, Weaver’s Studio Resource Center, Kolkata

Dr. Aprajita Sharma, archaeologist, Museums Division, Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi

Dr. Vishi Upadhyay, curatorial associate, Department of Art, Culture and Youth, Bihar Museum Patna