Where: Delhi, near the India Gate
Duration: 30 minutes—3 or 4 hours. It depends on your level of interest in art and whether you take the time to read about it.
Cost: 500 Rupees. You can also go out of the museum and back in multiple times during the day.
A Brief History: The idea for the museum sprang about around the 1950’s (so in a post-British colonial India). It’s very interesting to look through the permanent collection because you see the British influences, but also you can see points at which Indian artists returned to Asian methods of painting by creating schools of art, one very prominently in Kolkata.
Point of Interest: I was less than impressed with the permanent collection, but absolutely adored the temporary one. At the time, they showed the artist Jitish Kallat (Here After Here). He tended to reveal a lot of India through critiquing society. Some of my favorite works included Gandhi’s last speech with the letters cast in bones, a holographic set of images depicting how much phone carriers cost on one side and the suicide of a young girl because her mother couldn’t give her a single rupee on the other, and a hallway full of close-up images with cars each featuring a dent or scrape.
Recommendation: 3.5/5. I enjoyed it—though I don’t think I would have if the temporary exhibit wasn’t as great as it was. We actually had to rush through the temporary exhibit because we spent more time in the permanent collection first then took a late lunch break. I would suggest hitting the temporary collection then easing into the permanent collection. I found the permanent collection to hold less modern and contemporary art and more art from the 1850s or even before. This art was interesting in order to see what Indian art has sprung out of, but it wasn’t quite what I’d call modern.
*Note: For a delicious meal, head out of the main exit, turn right until you reach the main road then go down two blocks. If you turn left again there will be a complex of some sort on the right. A bit beyond it is a side street with some really delicious Indian buffets. We had to wait almost thirty minutes to get into one and it was all Indians waiting to get in, so we knew it was going to be good. A security guard at the entrance to the museum recommended it to us.
**Note: Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside the collections, which was a shame since I really would have liked some pictures of Jitish Kallat’s work. The metal tree comprised of pots and pans was one of his.