A work of heart.
By Shaan Bajaj
One of my favourite memories while travelling Prague was visiting a museum at 1am to learn more about the local history. Museums provide unique insight into the region, where you can explore how the city has grown, and learn about important events and themes through visual media. We have put together a list of well-known museums across major cities, outside of India, where you can learn more about your own roots, despite being far away from the Motherland.
British Museum, London
Room 33a, The Asahi Shimbun Gallery, at the British Museum displays an impressive collection of Indian art pieces. The gallery, India: Amaravati, explores a significant Buddhist site in Southeast India named the Amaravati Stupa. At the museum, you can see some of the sculptures showing scenes from Buddha’s life, and other religious relics.
Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), South Kensington
The V&A is a leading institution, recognised for their work in preserving and showcasing art and design. Their South Kensington location displays more than 2,000 art pieces from India, spanning prints, drawings, ceramics, photos, figurines, textiles, and more. These include a painting from Raja Ravi Varma; pieces from the Mughal Empire, such as Shah Jahan’s wine cup and turban ornaments from the 1600s; and even saris designed recently.
Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), New York
Visit the Met for its current exhibition, Tree & Serpent: Early Buddhist Art in India, 200 BCE – 400 CE, a curation of more than 125 objects from ancient India, depicting Buddhist themes such as the snake, which symbolises protection, and the tree of enlightenment. The exhibition is open until 13 November 2023. The museum is also home to a large collection of Indian statues, utensils, jewellery, instruments, and more dating back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, in their Asian Art gallery.
Asia Society, New York
Established in 1956, Asia Society aims to highlight Asian art, culture, and history. With three locations, in New York, Texas, and Hong Kong, alongside a large global network, Asia Society displays a large amount of South Asian art pieces, including paintings, illustrations, statues of Shiva, Parvati, Ram, Lakshmana, and the Buddha. They constantly hold new exhibitions, talks, and events. This September they will be hosting the South Asian New York Fashion Week Design Presentations, an initiative that begun in 2022, to highlight South Asian fashion designers.
Louvre Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is focused on bringing together cultures through themes, therefore each gallery is designed with a topic or area in mind, and art pieces from around the world are placed together to create a unique viewing experience. Highlights of the Indian art present at this stunning museum include The Dancing Shiva and other religious statues.
Humboldt Forum, Berlin
The Ethnological Collections and Asian Art exhibition is a curation of over 20,000 exhibits from civilisations around the world, including from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania. It encompasses collections from the Ethnologisches Museum and the Asian Art Museum in Berlin. As part of the exhibition, visitors can see Indian miniature paintings, samples of ancient religious rituals around the gods of India, and more.
Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles
LACMA once housed more than 100 different art pieces from India, one of the most comprehensive such collections in the Western hemisphere. While many are currently not for public viewing anymore, the museum’s new, USD 750-million building designed by Peter Zumthor, the David Geffen Galleries, is due to be completed in 2024, and we hope that this will see the return of the museum’s unique range of South Asian artistic and religious pieces in their permanent collection.