An art installation at the Bihar Museum.
On Bihar Divas, which recognises the foundation of the state on 22 March 1912, the Bihar Museum will launch the country’s first museum biennale. The event was conceived as a three-month-long event but due to the COVID-19 restrictions, it will run from 22 to 28 March 2021 at its Patna address, with a virtual conference. The Bihar Museum Biennale aims to help build a museum culture in India and highlight key collections from various museums.
At the Bihar Museum
Patna residents and visitors will be able to access the audio-guided tour at Bihar Museum and the two curated exhibitions, on the making of Bihar Museum and highlights from the state’s 19 museums.
Curated online tours
Meanwhile, curated virtual tours from museums around the world will be streamed online and at the Bihar Museum during the biennale. The participating museums from India are the Assam State Museum, City Palace Museum in Udaipur, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Bhopal’s Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Kanha Museum of Life and Art, Delhi’s Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Gurgaon’s Museo Camera, Bengaluru’s Museum of Art & Photography, Panaji’s Museum of Goa, Delhi’s National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai’s Piramal Museum, and Virasat-e-Khalsa, Anandpur Sahib. A publication on the 12 participating Indian museums titled Bihar, India and the World: Celebrating Museum Collections will be released at the Patna inauguration on 22 March 2021.
Cultural buffs around the world can look forward to the virtual conference on 23 and 24 March 2021. Among the discussions is a panel on 24 March, 6pm on museums engaging virtually with audiences in 2020 via campaigns such as #MuseumMomentsofZen and #MuseumFromHome, and their potential evolution in a post-pandemic world. The moderator is Jagdip Jagpal, director of India Art Fair, with panellists Hilary Knight, director of digital at London’s Tate, Amardeep Behl, founder-director-principal designer of Design Habitat Pvt Ltd, and Souraya Noujaim, scientific, curatorial and collections management director at Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The virtual conference opens on 23 March with the 10am introduction by Sabyasachi Mukherjee, director-general of Mumbai’s CSMVS and the keynote address by British art historian Neil MacGregor. At 2pm, the changing social functions of a museum will be on the table between moderator Shikha Jain, director – preservation and community design at Dronah, and panellists Kamini Sawhney, director of Bengaluru’s Museum of Art and Photography, Chiara Rostagno who was director of Museo del Cenacolo Vinciano, Javier Barón Thaidigsmann who was head of conservation of 19th-century painting at the Museo Nacional del Prado and Deborah Thiagarajan, founder of the Madras Craft Foundation and the founder-convener of the Tamil Nadu chapter of Intach. At 5.30pm, the question of how the secular setting of the museum space impacts the reading of our cultural icons that were created to express significantly personal, political or social intentions, will be discussed by Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri, director of Bhopal’s IGRMS, Leonhard Emmerling, director of programs South Asia at Delhi’s Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan and scholar Usha R Balakrishnan, with art historian Padma Shri Saryu Doshi as moderator. Also at 5.30pm, the role of museums as a platform of dialogue and representation will be explored by panellists Rakhi Sarkar, director of Centre of International Modern Art, Catalan Indologist Oscar Pujol, Marion Ackermann, director-general of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and curator Sabitha Satchi.
On 24 March, at 2pm, a discussion on translating lockdown learnings to the post-pandemic world will be moderated by art historian Alka Pande who is the project director and curator for the Bihar Museum Biennale, with panellists Rima Hooja, director at the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum City Palace Jaipur, Pramod Kumar KG, managing director of Eka Archiving Services and Ashok Adiceam, project lead for Paris’s Campus of Creative Arts. At 3.30pm, the dialogue between artistic intention and audience impression will be discussed by panellists Javier Barón Thaidigsmann, Saryu Doshi and Alka Pande, with Oscar Pujol as moderator. At 6pm, the museum experience of the future will be projected by panellists Sophie Makariou, president of Paris’s Musée Guimet, curator Amareshwar Galla, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Abhishek Poddar, founder-trustee of Bengaluru’s MAP, with moderator Suresh Jayaram, founder of 1.Shahnthiroad Studio. Also at 6pm, the role of museums in building bridges of understanding in an increasingly fragmented world will be moderated by Sarat Maharaj with panellists David Dabydeen, professor at Warwick University, curator Françoise Vergès and curator Gabi Ngcobo.