Many people may know about the Taj Mahal or Mahatma Gandhi, but the history of India is far deeper than just the Mughals or the struggle for independence.
The India and the World: A History in Nine Stories exhibition focuses on this rich history of the Indian subcontinent, putting it into context with the other great civilizations of the world. It examines the string of civilizations and empires that have ruled throughout history through artifacts, sculptures, art and more.
This ambitious project is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) in Mumbai, the National Museum in New Delhi and the British Museum in London. Items have been curated from all their collections to emphasize the shared nature of history.
The exhibition was on view at the CSMVS from November 11, 2017, to February 18, 2018, and displayed objects from around the world, inspired by contact with India’s ancient empires. These included carved animal from the Indus Valley Civilization, stones carved with Mauryan inscriptions, a sketch of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir drawn by Rembrandt, and Gandhi’s wooden spinning wheel.
Over 200 objects were displayed in total, not only from these museums but from cultural institutes and private collections across India. At the opening in Mumbai, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director General of CSMVS, described it as a showcase of “India’s glorious past, in relation to a global context, through the use of iconic historical objects, put in conversation with each other”.
Supported by the Tata Trusts and the Getty Foundation, the landmark exhibition is set to open in Delhi at the end of April.
However, three key pieces – The Townley Discobolus, a Roman copy of a Greek statue, Discobolus in Zhongshan Suit, a 2012 bronze sculpture by Chinese artist Jianguo Sui, and Unicode, a sculpture by Indian artist LN Tallur – will no longer be on display, according to Dr BR Mani, Director General, National Museum. He cited their heavy weight as being the cause of this change.