In Mumbai last week, I went to the marvellous exhibition “India and the world: A history in nine stories” which is on at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya – or, as it says on their own website “(Formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India)”.
Although the exhibition will travel to Delhi later this year, I very much wanted to see it in the splendid surroundings of the beautiful colonial-era museum.
At the risk of sounding bossy – please do go see this exhibition.
Trust me. You will not be disappointed.
It is superb, and the way objects are displayed and explained is world-class, weaving history laterally across countries and religions through 9 stories.
The concept of the exhibition is fascinating, allowing us to see Indian artefacts in a global context, across civilisations. We see how Indian history ties in, for example, with the history of Rome or Greece or Mesopotamia, and you can stand and compare contemporaneous sculptures or pottery from across civilisations, as they are exhibited together.
Take a display like this one, above, in which images of emperors across different civilisations are placed side by side – a Kushan king from India’s Uttar Pradesh, the Roman Emperor Hadrian and Alexander the Great.
This is a rare, very privileged opportunity to see treasures from the collections of the British Museum, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya itself, and Delhi’s National Museum, as well as objects from smaller regional museums and private collections. In other words, access to objects you would otherwise never get to see.
All the stops have been pulled out:
“It is the largest such collaboration for even the British Museum, which has never before lent so many objects for a single show.”
The exhibition is on in Mumbai until February 18th and then it heads to Delhi in March, for 3 months.
Every single object on display is remarkable. But there were some special favourites.
How divine is this little Harappan era agate bull, below?
Tiny, gorgeous, perfect. Dates from1800BC. Too lovely.
Loved this juxtaposition, below, of two religious icons:
Loved the slightly cross-eyed elephants in this Golconda painting:
And this was fun, below.
The British Museum’s Roman copy of the original Greek Discobolus, dating from 100AD:
And a 2012 Chinese reinterpretation, complete with Mao suit:
Details of the dates and timings can be found on the exhibition website.
Disclosure: I paid for my ticket + Rs100 for a photo pass, and no-one at the museum knew I blog.