Kolkata is more than just another metropolis. It has birthed art, craft, and political fervor since time immemorial. It is the city of ethereal ideas, the nucleus of Bengali culture, and a harmonious amalgamation of religious diversity. Art can never be caged or done justice only through art galleries, exhibits, and museums. In Kolkata, art is to be found everywhere and Delhi Art Gallery’s festival, 'The City as a Museum' seeks to encapsulate this idea. “At DAG, we realized that a museum is not a sterile place but is a constituent of history, people, and location — all of which are essential ingredients uniting a city’s citizenry and its culture”, says Ashish Anand, CEO and Managing Director.
The City as a Museum, DAG Museum’s annual traveling art and heritage festival returns this winter with its second edition in Kolkata. DAG seeks to recreate its success from last year’s festival, where the audience was taken on a journey through the city exploring its histories, sites, and collections that revealed new perspectives on its shared legacy of art and culture. It included a boat ride along the Ganges while talking about the river’s depiction in European artwork, exploring the colonial architecture of Victoria Memorial, a guided walk inside the beautiful Botanical Gardens, touring the business office neighborhood of Dalhousie at night, listening to local bands from the city and so much more over the course of ten days.
This year the festival journeys into exploring the lesser-known treasure troves of the city and beyond. The audience will traverse through the history of unknown art collections as well as iconic heritage spaces, as if in a time machine, and experience how modern Indian art flourished in the city. This edition takes us beyond the collection within DAG’s four walls to new collections, artists’ homes, studios, and libraries, narrating stories of how art was made, circulated, and absorbed by people.
Some of the highlights this year include collaborations with renowned institutions and monuments including Victoria Memorial Hall, the Hooghly Imambara, lesser-known gems of art and literary cultural materials at the Uttarpara Jaykrishna Public Library, ChintamaniKar Bird Sanctuary and Bhaskar Bhavan State Museum. It will also include exclusive visits to collections and heritage spaces like the home of Shanu Lahiri and the Prasad Tagore Palace. The festival is curated in collaboration with artists and heritage professionals like the theatre troupe Kalakshetra Manipur, visual artist Sumantra Mukherjee, historians, and research scholars Prasanta Das, Sarbajit Mitra, and Namrata Ghosh, musician and academic Pramantha Mohun Tagore, among others. This edition also contains exploring art’s connection with science, ecology, and the communities that are needed to sustain their practices and progress over time such as a visit to the house of the pioneering scientist J. C. Bose, who commissioned murals and decorations in India’s first ‘temple of science’ at the Acharya Bhavan and the Bose Institute.
The experiences that the festival promises open up a cumulative portal into the past that bridges lost connections with the rich heritage of the city and allows us to step into spaces which nurtured such cultural exchanges, marking their continuing relevance in our own time. The festival will continue to grow with its third edition in Mumbai in 2023.
If you are in the city, try not to miss this wonderful curated experience being held from the 18th to the 28th of November this year. The events are free but registration is required. You can register by clicking here.