A series of guided walks to transform Kolkata as a living museum

Series of walks and events will familiarise participants with places linked to the rich history of Bengal art

Every city has its share of museums, but can a city turn into a museum so that a clear connection is established between it and what’s inside its museums? Something like this is going to happen in Kolkata later this week, when a 10-day-long series of walks and events will familiarise participants with places linked to the rich history of Bengal art.

The set of events is being organised by DAG Museums, the curator of Ghare Baire, a popular museum-exhibition that showcases 200 years of art in Bengal and that’s housed in the 188-year-old but recently restored Currency Building located in the heart of Kolkata.

Legacy of the Tagores

The programme, titled The City as a Museum, will include an evening on the barge to rediscover the Hooghly as seen by travelling European painters; a guided tour of the Botanical Gardens; a visit to the nearby town of Panihati to look at the legacy of the Tagores in art and music on both sides of the river; guided walks through Dalhousie Square (or BBD Bagh), through the studios and presses of Chitpur Road and through the remains of the exiled kingdom of Awadh in Metiabruz; and workshops in collaboration with the Indian Museum and Victoria Memorial Hall.

“While Ghare Baire is the first comprehensive showcase of Bengal’s art, we are always struck by the many stories, collections and spaces related to artists and their art that are scattered across the city and often lost to our collective imagination. The City as a Museum was conceived with the idea of retracing these connections and bringing the art in our collection to life by experiencing the contexts which they came from,” Sumona Chakravarty, deputy director of DAG Museums, told The Hindu.

Opportunities for experimentation

“For example, what new perspectives on the art of the Tagores could we get if we spent time in the environs that inspired them? What can we learn about the missing stories of artists in the annals of history during a visit to Metiabruz? We also wanted to ensure there were opportunities for experimentation and learning for a new generation of artists and creatives, which is how the partnership came about and we developed two workshops in collaboration with them,” Ms. Chakravarty said.

“We are walking through Dalhousie Square in the quiet of a winter night, and walking through Chitpur with the art historian and artist Paula Sengupta. Not many of us have had the chance to go on a full-moon boat ride and listen to stories of how artists have been inspired by the ghats of Kolkata, and very few have seen the rare botanical art at the Botanical Gardens. I believe that a museum’s role goes beyond being a repository of the past — into building a more vibrant cultural landscape,” she said.

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