#VocalForLocal: New on the Map

Inside Bengaluru’s newest space for the arts - Museum of Arts & Photography

Not often do you see a museum that’s not state mandated but champions the arts with a specialised focus, but a new museum in Bengaluru is changing that. Le Mill chatted with the spokesperson at MAP on their unique vision.

What was the founding thought behind creating the Museum of Art & Photography?

New on the Map

Early in his travels, Abhishek (Poddar) found it surprising that most Indians would line up to go to museums on their trips abroad, but yet they shy away from visiting them in India. Museums in our country have unfortunately earned the reputation of being either dry and dull when associated with historical objects or elitist and intimidating when associated with modern and contemporary art.

The art world often appears as an intimidating realm of high culture, leaving the average person feeling apprehensive. Despite art being integrated into every aspect of our lives, there remains a wide distinction between "high art" and "low art," causing individuals without specific art vocabulary to feel excluded. However, we firmly believe that the notion of needing extensive formal knowledge about artworks to enjoy it is a misconception. It was with a desire to change things that the idea of MAP was born - to create a museum that will provide a space where people could engage with art in a new and interesting manner; where they could choose to spend an entire day with their families, rather than going to the mall or the cinema.

What does it aim to create for society?

New on the Map

The Museum's mission is to democratise art and make it as enjoyable and relatable as possible for everyone. We firmly believe in the transformative power of the arts to change our perception of the world and recognize museums as agents of positive change. Art stimulates curiosity, broadens perspectives, and cultivates critical and creative thinking skills. It is invaluable for human development and the progress of society. However, the arts are often neglected in our country, which is why we consider it essential for both children and adults. By providing an interface with art, we help individuals develop the capacity to navigate the visually saturated world of the 21st century. Furthermore, the arts enrich our lives and enable us to connect deeply and empathetically with our roots, cultural heritage, and national identity.

Our museum aims to change the perception of museums and art by creating a diverse space where ideas, stories, and cultural exchange converge. Our ultimate goal is to inspire people to engage with art in ways that promote humanity, empathy, and a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit.

What is the kind of talent one can expect at MAP?

New on the Map

MAP is custodian to a growing collection of over 60,000 artworks that take viewers on a comprehensive journey of Indian art and culture, which of course includes quite a collection of works by the Indian National treasure artists: Jamini Roy, Raja Ravi Varma, Nandalal Bose, Sailoz Mookherjea; as well as the work of Indian modern masters including SH Raza, FN Souza, MF Husain, VS Gaitonde, KH Ara, Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta, Manjit Bawa, KG Subramanyan, Bhupen Khakhar. The Museum collection also features important contemporary art, such as Jitish Kallat and Arpita Singh.

The photography collection ranges from 19th century by foreign photographers travelling in India (Henri Cartier-Bressonand studios such as Bourne & Shepherd, Francis Frith & Co) to India’s earliest photographers like Lala Deen Dayal, Sawai Ram Singh and modern and contemporary photographers such as Jyoti Bhatt, Pushpamala N, TS Satyan, Dayanita Singh, Karen Knorr, Gauri Gill, and Raghu Rai.

What is the educational programming at MAP going to look like?

New on the Map

Education in arts and culture is central to our mission, because we believe that everybody can benefit from speaking the language of art. Our education team regularly puts together programmes for people across audiences and ages: we offer workshops for school students, capacity-building for teachers, and host public lectures on a range of topics that are designed for all. Our programmes seek new ways to interact with the collection highlighting the positive role that art can play in our lives.

We regularly curate workshops, talks and lectures for adult audiences that are delivered by leading cultural figures and practitioners. We also create educational content for serious audiences, for instance our Museums without Borders series which juxtaposes objects from our collection with similar ones in partner institutions to deconstruct specific formal elements of their cultural histories. We have a host of educational tools that are meant to complement the museum experience, like DiscoverMAP or walkthroughs that are curated across the spectrum of familiarity with art.

Similarly, we have always understood the importance of catering art to younger audiences with f initiatives like ArtSparks, hands-on workshops and modules that allow immersion into the technique or stories of artworks that are built specifically to appeal to younger sensibilities. We have developed a summer workshop for children, and a plethora of youth engagements including workshops, dialogues, film screenings, and so on as a part of our collaborations with the British Council UK’s Our Shared Cultural Heritage (OSCH) programme.