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London Museum plans exhibitions on India

New Delhi: After showcasing Kalighat paintings, which is currently touring India, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London is planning to promote more of the country`s cultural heritage through more exhibitions.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore, the V&A would hold a display of around 50 of his paintings from the period 1928 to 1939 in London from December 2011 to March 2012.

Also, in autumn of 2012, the V&A is scheduled to host a show of contemporary Indian design called `India Design Now`, which will be curated by the museum and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.

"We have a huge collection of art from India and it is natural that we should work on the collections together," says Martin Roth, director, Victoria & Albert Museum during his visit here recently. This is one of the first major initiatives by the new director.

Roth says the exhibitions are part of initiatives resulting from the Memorandum of Understanding signed with V&A, British Museum and the British Council Library with the Government of India on June 9, 2010 to promote cultural cooperation and exchanges over the next five years.

The museum had earlier this month, opened a showcase of 100 Kalighat paintings at the Victoria Memorial Hall Museum in Kolkata. The exhibition sports the largest single collection of Kalighat paintings in the world and is being shown for the first time in India. Out of the over 100 paintings on display, 15 contemporary works created by artists currently working in rural Bengal have been acquired by the V&A specifically for the exhibition.

After Kolkata where it is scheduled to run till December this year, the exhibition on Kalighat paintings sourced from the V&A collection is slated to travel next to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi. The exhibition "Rabindranath Tagore: Poet and Painter" from 13 December 2011 to 4 March 2012 in London will display around 50 paintings of the `Renaissance Man` of modern India, best known as a poet but who was also a composer, educator, social reformer, playwright, philosopher and painter.

Curated by Prof Raman Siva Kumar and organised by the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi with support from the Culture Ministry, the exhibition will feature a range of paintings that reveal characteristics of Tagore`s painting style and subjects. In the future plans of the museum are displays of design in India and Britain in 2013. The V&A will reciprocally show India Design Now (created in collaboration with the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad) from December 2012?March 2013.

The V&A has also agreed to work with National Institute of Design on the refurbishment and redisplay of Indian national museums. UK-based philanthropy body Bonita Trust has donated 150,000 pounds to support the London museum over the next two years to develop its partnerships with museums and the cultural sector in India and deliver a programme that promotes skill sharing and cultural understanding between the two coutures.

Activities supported by the Trust include the exhibition of Kalighat paintings in Kolkata, digitisation of V&A Museum`s collection of Indian Company paintings and the museum`s expert advice to conserve Far Eastern collections in museums at Hyderabad and Gwalior.It also supports a professional development programme including two internships for Indian textile conservators.

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