The Bihar Museum hosts two photography exhibitions to raise awareness about Indian museum culture and identity.
With the second edition of the Bihar Museum Biennale scheduled to open on August 7, 2023, the museum recently hosted two photography exhibitions curated by Dr. Alka Pande, the chief curator of Bihar Museum Biennale Edition 2, as a curtain raiser to the upcoming Museum Biennale that aims to sensitize the public about the importance and significance of a museum culture in India while simultaneously facilitating an understanding of our culture, thereby building a strong sense of identity, nationhood, and the self.
The first of the two pre-Bihar Museum Biennale photography exhibitions was ‘Brasilia 60+ and the Construction of Modern Brazil,’ which essentially celebrated 200 years of independence and paid tribute to the notable achievements of Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil. The exhibition also highlighted the vision, skill, and creativity of the architects, urban planners, and artists who shaped Brasilia into the architectural masterpiece it is today.
Brasilia, an idea that emerged in the early 19th century, gained immense significance over time and was eventually inscribed in Brazil›s constitution. In 1956, President Juscelino Kubitschek recognized this idea and selected Lucio Costa›s urban plan, the ‘Plano Piloto,’ as the winning concept for the new capital. The renowned Brazilian modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer skillfully captured the inherent beauty of Brasilia by integrating Costa›s meticulous urban layout with distinct buildings that exude functional, rhythmic structures, intricately designed facades, and minimalist, clean, and linear designs.
The second exhibition was ‘Nature Strikes Back,’ featuring photographs by Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India. The exhibition presented a series of evocative black-and-white photographs, each offering a unique perspective on the decaying remnants of our environment. The exhibition invited visitors to explore the darker side of nature and its delicate relationship with human existence.
Lenain›s artistic vision combines elements from both Western and Eastern traditions. Working with grids and columns, he presents a collection of 41 frames, blending landscapes and vertical compositions. Through his work, Lenain prompts contemplation of the delicate balance between the two forces. Dr. Alka Pande, the curator of the exhibition, observes, «Lenain›s photography transports us to a space where the lines between the Occident and the Oriental blur. His images capture not only the fury and wrath of nature but also its inherent beauty.»
The Bihar Museum is one of the visionary projects. Bihar possesses India’s most important archaeological sites, including prehistoric settlements and the remains of ancient republics and universities. Through its vast collections that span over 10,000 years, the new Bihar Museum traces the rich history and artistic traditions that flourished in the region through the ages and has a gallery dedicated to the Bihar Diaspora. The Bihar Museum’s art galleries have a rich collection of traditional, folk, and contemporary art from Bihar. The Bihar Museum is not only a cultural landmark in Bihar but also a benchmark for modern museums. But it wasn’t a cinch to realize a museum that serves the aforementioned purpose without looking too imposing on the city’s landscape. «While we already had the Patna museum, all the artifacts could not be properly displayed there. So it was decided to create a world-class modern museum. Now, everybody talks about art and culture in India, but no one really bothered to create a truly world-class museum after independence. When we look at the international museums, not only are they thoughtfully designed, there’s an ecosystem that supports them,» explains Anjani Kumar Singh, Director General of the Bihar Museum.
He further adds, «In our endeavor, we had to take some strong decisions, such as demolishing a few houses allotted to the ministers, in order to create a space that was central. We made special efforts to ensure that it’s suited to the needs and the interests of the next generation.»
Japan-based Maki & Associates and its Indian partner OPOLIS, Mumbai, served as primary consultant architects for the project. The museum, which can accommodate 10,000 visitors at any given time, has seven courtyards that, according to Anjani, kill 50 percent of the city’s noise, making the museum a very unique abode situated in the center of the city and yet away from all the cacophony and commotion.