The first ever Museum Biennale in India and the world will be inaugurated in a hybrid avatar – physical and digital on March 22 on the occasion of Bihar Divas.
The ceremony will be attended by Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, Anjani Kumar Singh, the Nodal Officer of the Bihar Museum and Advisor to the Chief Minister and Deepak Anand, Director, Bihar Museum. Bringing together a taster of key collections from various museums across India and the world through virtual tours, the biennale features a series of masterclasses with experts from the creative industries and a two-day international conference with speakers including Neil MacGregor, Hilary Knight, Dr Souraya Noujaim, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Javier Barón Thaidigsmann among others.
Scheduled till March 28, it will also host exhibitions from several international museums as well as from 13 Indian museums including the host museum. Speakers and participants from Germany, France, India, Italy, Spain, Singapore, South Africa, the UK, and the UAE are expected to attend the event.
During the course of the seven days, specially curated virtual tours of the participating national and international museums will be streamed online as well as at the Bihar Museum in Patna. The participating museums from India include Assam State Museum, Guwahati; Bihar Museum, Patna; City Palace Museum, Udaipur; Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai; Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal; Kanha Museum of Life and Art, Singinawa; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi; Museo Camera, Gurgaon; Museum of Art & Photography, Bengaluru; Museum of Goa, Bardez; National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; Piramal Museum, Mumbai and Virasat-e-Khalsa, Anandpur Sahib. Guest museums include the National Museum of Interventions, Mexico; The Castle Museum in Pszczyna, Poland; National Museum of Colombia, Colombia; The Liberation War Museum, Bangladesh and the Sarmaya Art Foundation.
Scheduled on March 23 and 24, the two-day international conference explores the ‘museum’ as a site of incubation, invention and ideation, with sessions designed to initiate a discourse around the cultural objects of the museum. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic’s unforeseen and unprecedented impact on the arts and cultural industry, there are a series of panel discussions reflecting on the challenges as well as learnings for the creative industries overall and the specifically examine these from the perspective of artists, curators, patrons, connoisseurs and museums. Sessions at the conference will also explore the role that technology and virtual storytelling has played in being able to connect audiences with the artistic world, and the future of museums in the digital age.
Some of the highlight sessions include ‘Elements of a Museum’, ‘Perceptions of Art’ ‘Viewership, Connoisseurship, Outreach in a Post-Pandemic World’, ‘New Museums, New Audiences: Sharing in the Virtual Age’, ‘Bihar Museum: An Icon of Hope, Transformation and Resilience’ and ‘Bihar, India, and the World’.
The virtual masterclasses, which run for four days will focus on a variety of subjects including restoration of art, storytelling through dance, writing biographies, cinema critique, cultural appreciation, and writing in Indian languages with specific focus on the rich tapestry of vernacular dialects.
Those conducting the masterclasses include Shovana Narayan and Neelam Choudhary; Purushottam Agrawal, Ravikant, Lucia Martinez, Eva Martinez; Manu S. Pillai, Prayag Shukla, Vinod Bhardwaj and Ira Mukhoty.
Visitors who will physically be present at the Bihar Museum will be free to embark on a curated, audio-guided tour of the highlights of the collection. Additionally, they will also have the opportunity to explore two curated exhibitions at the museum: one on the ‘Making of the Bihar Museum’ by the leading architect Rahul Gore, and another that will showcase the collections of 19 local state museums of Bihar.