On International Museum Day, art lovers from around the world got to browse through three exhibitions of the iconic Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, which went live on the Google Art & Culture Project.
The Victoria Memorial Hall was opened in 1921, which was conceived by Lord Curzon. It is also a museum where people can see before them pictures and statues of men who played a prominent part in the history of India and develop a pride in their past especially in relation to the history of Calcutta (now Kolkata). Presently it is the finest and most prominent building and art museum of Kolkata, under the Department of Culture, Government of India.
The three separate exhibitions featured in the Victoria Memorial are ‘Magnificent Heritage of India as seen by the Daniells’, ‘The Art of Abanindranath Tagore’ and ‘Gaganendranath Tagore: Painter and Personality’, which contain 241 paintings with related details.
“What we are putting up virtually are curated exhibitions that will appear like a catalogue to a viewer, not only paintings but also lot of text. It is not possible for us to hold these exhibitions at one time virtually for lack of space. We are overcoming that lack of space by going virtual,” secretary and curator of Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH) Jayanta Sengupta told the Indian media.
The project spans various locations such as the Paris Opera, Smithsonian National Museum of History and Gateway of India, offering viewers a 360-degree walk through the galleries, in Google Street View mode.
“Over 200 paintings by Bengal School of Art exponents Abanindranath Tagore and Gaganendranath Tagore will be featured in total, in the first two virtual exhibitions. They have been curated by the leading art historian Ratan Parimoo, the author of ‘Art of Three Tagores: From Revival to Modernity’,” added Sengupta.
There are so far 354 museum views from India, including those of the Indian Museum in Kolkata, National Museum and National Gallery of Modern Art from New Delhi.
The three prized collections of Victoria Memorial have been digitised as these are famous across the world. Victoria Memorial has a collection of 72 Thomas and William Daniell’s, the largest in the world.
“These are iconic paintings because they were done between 1770 and 1850. These were pre-camera era. Naturally, we get to see a large part of India that exist no more through these paintings. Take for example the painting that shows a panoramic view of the place we now know as Esplanade, complete with the Raj Bhavan as it originally looked, without the dome,” said the memorial curator.