NEW YORK: Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that The Met and the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India have reaffirmed their long-term cooperative relationship through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which renews for five additional years the two-way partnerships for sharing knowledge and expertise that have been established between the Museum and cultural institutions in India.
The MOU was signed in June by Shefali Shah, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, and Mr. Campbell.Through the agreement, the Ministry of Culture and The Met will continue to cooperate in the areas of conservation, exhibitions, academic research, information-sharing, public education, publications, museum management, and short- and long-term loans.
“This agreement is a wide-ranging reaffirmation of The Met’s close relationship with India and its rich cultural heritage,” said Campbell. “The Indian Conservation Fellowship Program, in particular, has forged important professional relationships between colleagues internationally and has provided critical experience that can be built upon in the future. By generously continuing its support of this program, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has once again demonstrated its commitment to providing educational support for museum professionals around the world.”
The launch of the next phase of the Indian Conservation Fellowship Program marks the beginning of the new agreement. This major initiative-undertaken beginning in 2012 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL), with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-awards up to seven fellowships a year to conservators currently working in art and cultural heritage museums and institutions in India.
The current phase reinforces and expands upon the program’s goals and essential structure. Two new partners are now joining the program: the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, Brussels; and the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, The Smithsonian Museums of Asian Art, Washington, D.C.
The components of the program over the next five years are: 35 new fellowships; annual seminars and workshops in India; follow-up visits by host supervisors at fellows’ home institutions; visits by the directors of the participating Indian museums to the fellows’ host institutions; and meetings of the advisory committee to organize and plan seminars, workshops, and interviews.
Art from the Indian sub-continent has been collected by the Metropolitan Museum from 1891 through today, and thanks to the generosity of numerous private donors, the Museum now boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of Indian art in the West.
The holdings of the Department of Asian Art include early, classical, and medieval sculpture, Hindu court (Rajput and Pahari) painting, court and trade textiles, and various other media. The Indian collection consists of some 1,250 works of art, of which around 350 are on view in the nine Herbert and Florence Irving Galleries of South Asian Art, the most extensive such displays outside of India.
Indian art dating from 1500 to 1900 is represented by more than 1,300 pieces in all media in the Department of Islamic Art. Over the past 30 years, the Department of Islamic Art has curated several major Indian exhibitions, including India: Art and Culture, 1300-1900 (1985); Flowers Underfoot (1997); Treasury of the World (2001); Pearls of the Parrot of India (2005); and Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy (2015).
The Arms and Armor Department has rich holdings of Mughal and South Indian arms and armor, including a highly decorated armor of mail and plate from the period of Shah Jahan (dated 1632-33). And some 200 musical instruments from India reside in the Department of Musical Instruments, including rare instruments donated by Indian musicologist Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore in the late 19th century.
The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.
Prakash M Swamy