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Dear Friends,

Welcome to the second edition of our newsletter. It has been an exciting winter season with the launch of memorable international exhibitions and projects at the Museum, which we have outlined for you below. Several special visitors including Nick Serota, Director of the Tate, London and his wife Clare, Glen Lowry, Director of MoMA and Richard Armstrong of the Guggenheim Museum, New York, have visited us and we share their views with you. After six months of furious activity we opened the Museum Plaza with the launch of the BMW Guggenheim Lab. The Plaza almost doubles the space of the Museum and will be used for extensive outreach, education, theatre, performance and other projects. Our Modern and Contemporary Art course has commenced its second year with 18 new students and we are proud to note that one of our alumni has joined an important art magazine and another, Sahej Rahal, won the prestigious ZegnArt residency to the Macro Museum, Rome. We would like to encourage you to respond to our initiative, so do tell us what you think and if you would like us to add anything to the newsletter.

Tasneem Zakaria Mehta
Managing Trustee and Honorary Director
Installation view of Homelands, presented by the British Council in collaboration with the Museum

Homelands: A 21st Century Story of Home, Away, and All the Places In Between

April 28 – June 9, 2013 | The Kamalnayan Bajaj Special Exhibitions Gallery

The Museum collaborated with the British Council to present Homelands, an extraordinary exhibition that introduces the work of 28 modern and contemporary British artists to an Indian audience. In 2009 the British Council extended an invitation to young curators from across the globe to conceptualize an exhibition drawing from the Council’s art collection. Indian Curator Latika Gupta was selected based on her conception of the exhibition Homelands which challenges the quintessential notion of ‘Britishness,’ and explores the churning of identities in a cross cultural, globalised landscape. The works of internationally renowned artists like Anthony Haughey, Mona Hatoum and Zineb Sedira lead the viewer to reevaluate their traditional notions of what constitutes a home, through the exploration of themes including transience, memory and alienation. Homelands was on view at the Museum from April 28 – June 9, 2013, after showing in New Delhi and Kolkata. The exhibition will travel next to Bengaluru.

Curated by Latika Gupta from the British Council art collection

Left to Right: Tim Hetherington, Dem Ol Bod Ose: Creole: Architecture of Sierra Leone, 2004; Nathan Coley, Camouflage Bayrakli Mosque, 2007; Cornelia Parker, Meteorite lands on Buckingham Palace, 1998 and Meteorite lands on St Paul’s Cathedral, 1998

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ZegnArt Public

March 3 – May 28, 2013 | The Museum Façade

The Museum partnered with the Ermenegildo Zegna group to commission a work of art that required the artist to respond to the notion of "Public". Seven shortlisted artists were asked to submit project proposals. Reena Kallat was the artist selected for the first edition of ZegnArt Public. While exploring the city’s layered history, Kallat was struck by Mumbai’s changing street names. She was fascinated by the manner in which streets define a city’s imagination and how the names locate people and places in the temporal grid of the city's evolution. Untitled (Cobweb/Crossings), an oversized web formed with hundreds of rubber stamps, wove the history of the city onto the façade of the Museum, with each stamp bearing the colonial name of the city street that has now been replaced by an indigenous one.

Indeed, as an astute young visitor to the Museum pointed out, the form of the web itself was evocative of the twisting, unpredictable streets that make up the jumbled geography of the city. The impact of this landmark public sculpture initiative was immediately apparent, with passers by stopping to spin their own narratives about the stories embedded in this massive work. Biweekly curatorial tours and workshops of the exhibition encouraged the public to engage with ideas and stories about what constitutes an open, urban, democratic space.

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  New at the Museum  

Family Fridays


Public Lectures


Public Tours

Every Friday through May, the Museum welcomed families with a range of exciting activities and workshops designed for all ages, inspired by our permanent collection and special exhibitions. Participants created personalized memory maps inspired by Kallat’s Untitled (Cobweb/Crossings), curated their own exhibitions after exploring Latika Gupta’s curatorial strategy in Homelands, discovered Mumbai's past and present communities while making puppets and tried their hands at the traditional arts of Ragamala painting, pottery and silver-work!

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The Museum’s weekly programme of free public lectures continued with an exciting line-up of speakers who explored a wide range of topics. Beth Citron from the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, discussed modernist art from India, Ingval Maxwell, eminent UK based conservation architect spoke about international conservation standards for heritage buildings to captivated audience, Jyotindra Jain, noted art and cultural historian, explored the use of collage in melding the divine and the popular in India, and Rahaab Allana, curator of the Alkazi Foundation, expounded upon the afterlife of an archival image. Upcoming lectures promise more animated debates and first-hand insights into the latest research.

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The Museum’s programme of open-to-public guided tours, led by the curatorial team, continued this quarter with tours being offered several days a week, in multiple languages. Particularly popular were the tours conducted for the Museum’s special exhibitions, including Homelands, presented in collaboration with the British Council, and Reena Kallat’s Untitled (Cobweb/Crossings), a tangled web of stories and memories.

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“What a heroic accomplishment of respectfully restoring this beautiful building and then breathing life into it for the citizens of Mumbai and the world. Thank you very much.”

  James Cuno, President & Chief Executive Officer, The J. Paul Getty Trust  
  New at the Museum  

Opening Reception: Homelands


Perspectives on Collecting


Thomas Heatherwick
at the Museum

Curated by Latika Gupta from the collection of the British Council, Homelands opened at the Museum as its third city-stop after having toured New Delhi and Kolkata, and preceding Bengaluru. At the opening reception, the Museum hosted a conversation between Andrea Rose, Director of Visual Arts and Strategic Programmes, British Council, and artists Zineb Sedira and Jitish Kallat.

Zineb Sedira, whose work ‘Mother Tongue’ is a part of the exhibition, was born in France to Algerian parents. She now lives in England, and her children are therefore twice removed from their homeland. ‘Mother Tongue’ traces the communication between the generations, offering insights into interpersonal relationships. Jitish Kallat’s work is also is intrinsically linked to his home city of Mumbai.


As a part of the outreach programmes organized for Homelands, a panel discussion on ‘Perspectives on Collecting’ was organized at the Museum with support from Christie’s on Sunday, April 28, 2013. Moderated by Sreela Ghosh, Director of Arts, South Asia, British Council the panel included Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, Managing Trustee and Honorary Director, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, Andrea Rose, Director of Visual Arts and Strategic Programmes, British Council and Menaka Kumari-Shah, Director, Christie’s India.

The panel explored the challenges of setting up and handling a public collection with focus on the vast collections of the British Council and the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. The comparison of the two made for an insightful contrast: the collection of the British Council is constantly on loan all across the world and not housed in a single space as the collection of the Museum is. This brought to light the varied aspects of upkeep, challenges involved and questions of visibility and outreach. The panel also encouraged young buyers with tips on setting up private art collections.


This March, the Museum was pleased to collaborate with the India Design Forum to present a lecture by acclaimed designer Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio. Thomas spoke on the subject of ‘Making,’ through the lens of his various design initiatives over the years. The captivated audience was treated to an insider’s view of pioneering projects by the Heatherwick Studio including the Olympic Cauldron for the 2012 Olympic Games, the New Bus for London, and the award winning UK Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo 2010. Heatherwick recounted how the Cauldron was one of the games “best kept secrets,” hidden from the public eye for over two years. Just days before the opening, test runs on the cauldron were conducted in the north of England before the assembly was brought to the stadium and discreetly tested — but only during hours in which airspace restrictions prevented news helicopters from getting an advance look!


“Thanks for a wonderful experience. ‘Preservation and Conservation’ section/people have done a fine job. Educational programs and the initiative in involving students/graduates in Museum’s activities are worth emulating. Best wishes!”

  Chanchal Kumar, Secretary Art, Culture and Youth, Government of Bihar  

Launching Friends of the Museum

The Museum is delighted to announce the launch of its ‘Friends of the Museum’ programme. The FoM programme attempts to further engage audiences in an exploration of the city’s artistic and cultural history. The programme offers Individual, Family and Corporate membership options, each with its own range of benefits and opportunities. Through the FoM programme, the Museum aspires to provide a unique platform for interested individuals to explore, experience and interact, and, through this, create a dedicated support base for the Museum and its activities.

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Film, Theatre, and Performance at the Museum Plaza – Coming Soon!

The National Streets for the Performing Arts at the Museum Plaza

The Museum will shortly begin an exciting series of programmes focusing on film, theatre, music and dance with regular events each week, making weekday evenings more exciting than ever before! This initiative will bring cutting edge cinema from across the world, documentary and feature films on contemporary art and artists, art house cinema and frequent film festivals to the city. The Museum Plaza will also host evenings that offer traditional as well as contemporary music, dance and drama.

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Outreach Programmes for The Last Harvest, at the NGMA, Mumbai

  BDL News  

The Museum education team conceptualized and implemented a range of exciting outreach programmes for The Last Harvest, an exhibition of paintings by Rabindranath Tagore at the NGMA, Mumbai. Curated by Prof. Siva Kumar from Visva-Bharati University, the exhibition was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and organized by NGMA in celebration of Tagore 150th birth anniversary. The exhibition travelled in three separate international circuits to New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, Toronto and Kuala Lumpur before arriving in Mumbai.

The BDL Museum team’s outreach efforts included interpretive walks through the exhibition for visitors of all ages. Different activity stations were designed to encourage audiences to engage with the diversity in Tagore’s painted forms. One station asked visitors to experiment with doodling, using Tagore’s preferred medium of ink and paper. At another station, participants used their imagination to create mythical creatures inspired by Tagore’s composite animals. A popular favourite was a mask painting activity where participants were asked to represent their feelings and character traits based on Tagore’s faces.


“A most impressive achievement! Congratulations to the entire team and its inspired leadership.”

  Achim Borchardt-Hume, Head of Exhibitions, Tate Modern, London  
  BDL News  
Before After

Ferdawsi's Shahnama

A 300 year old copy of Ferdawsi’s Shahnama from the Museum collection was recently conserved by the team at the INTACH Conservation Lab in the Museum.

The Shahnama, or Book of Kings, is composed of some 50,000 verses written 1000 years ago by the Persian poet Hakim Abul-Qasim Mansur, later known as Ferdawsi Tusi. It recounts the myths, legends and quasi-history of the Persian Empire (modern-day Iran) from the beginning of time until the Arab conquest in the 7th century AD. The epic poem took 33 years to complete, and drew on a range of sources including local and dynastic histories and oral traditions, and the Zoroastrian Avesta. With its accounts of the fantastic and heroic deeds of the Persian kings, the significance of Shahnama has since lain in its association with notions of justice, legitimacy and divine glory. By commissioning their own versions of the Shahnama, later rulers in the region attempted to establish the legitimacy of their rule through this connection with Iran’s earliest kings.

The illustrated manuscript in the Museum collection was badly warped, covered with dust and dirt, with tears, creases and stains. It took 2 conservators, 8 months to restore this manuscript. The binding was first removed and each folio separately dry-cleaned. A hardened layer of dirt was removed with a mixture of solvents and the tears, losses and edges repaired using acid-free tissue paper. A strip lining of the same material was provided to reinforce the spine and the manuscript was finally rebound using the original covers.


Bust of David Sassoon

This white marble bust of David Sassoon stands in the Museum’s central gallery, occupying pride of place in front of the statue of Prince Albert. Created in 1865 by Thomas Woolner, the bust likely commemorated Sassoon’s generous donation towards the construction of the Museum building, much like the six pointed star which covers the Museum’s decorative ceiling.

A Baghdadi Jew, Sassoon settled in Bombay in 1833, attracted by the religious tolerance and trading opportunities in the city. He arrived, bringing little with him. His business acumen soon made him one of the most successful merchants in the city. By the end of the 1850's it was opined that "silver and gold, silks, gums and spices, opium and cotton, wool and wheat - whatever moves over sea or land feels the hand or bears the mark of Sassoon and Co".

In an age when trade, industrialism and philanthropy went hand in hand in the city, Sassoon, and later his sons, funded the construction of a Mechanics' Institute, a library, and a convalescent home in Pune and the docks in Colaba - named the Sassoon docks, these were the first wet docks in Bombay and continue to be city landmark. Sassoon was conscious of a duty towards his community, building synagogues and encouraging the growth of Jewish identity through organized religious education.

  BDL News  
Installing Reena Kallat’s Untitled (Cobweb/Crossings)

Comprised of 550 resin rubber stamps strung together with steel rope and measuring approximately 45 ft in height and 60 ft in width, Kallat’s Untitled (Cobweb/Crossings) weighed over one ton! Installing this work was incredibly challenging. It took 2 days, 70 men, 8 pulleys and 1 crane to secure the web onto the 150 year old facade of the Museum.

Bamboo scaffolding was built across the Museum’s front facade, and pulleys were temporarily fixed on to the roof to assist in lifting the work up from the ground below. The work was pre-assembled on the ground in front of the Museum and wrapped in net to which the ropes were attached. The pulleys, however, proved insufficient, and the work had been lifted only a few feet when this method of installation had to be abandoned. At the end of the day, a crane was required, lifting the work effortlessly into position.


An Institution of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai | Supported by the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation Restored by INTACH, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage

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