MAP Museum of Art and Photography

MAP Museum of Art and Photography, India’s first museum of South Asian visual culture, will open in the global city of technology, Bangalore, in late 2022.

The museum will be housed in a state of the art 44,000 square foot building, designed by the acclaimed Indian architectural practice Matthew & Ghosh, on a landmark site at the heart of Bangalore’s museums district.

The MAP collection includes more than 20,000 works. It covers the full range of South Asian visual culture: modern and contemporary art and sculpture, folk and tribal art, textiles, graphics and photography, with a particular focus on the period from the mid 19th century, a turning point in the history of Britain’s colonial relationship with the region, right up to the present day.

About 600 million people, more than half India’s population, are under 25 years old; no country has more young people. MAP, through advanced technology, cross art form collaborations and vivid storytelling,  aims to transform the experience of museum going, making it exciting, accessible and relevant to the lives of younger generations. Entrance to the collection in the new building will be free to visitors, with a small charge for special exhibitions.

Launching initially online in December 2020 at the height of the pandemic, MAP already brings its collection to life through multiple pathways, from VR and AR to animation, video, livestreams, and online workshops.

Through its Museums Without Borders initiative, MAP has developed digital partnerships with international museums to share collections online. These include the British Museum, V&A, Horniman Museum, National Gallery Singapore, Museum of Fine Art Boston, Rhode Island School of Design, Morgan Library and Museum, Vitra Design Museum.

MAP is the brainchild of philanthropist and collector Abhishek Poddar. Born in Calcutta, he began collecting in the early 80s and now lives in Bangalore. He has gifted the founding collection to the museum and has brought together an international network of supporters and partners to raise the funds to develop the new building and create a long-term sustainable future for the museum.

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Speaking about the plans for MAP, Abhishek Poddar said: “From a very young age, I have been on a long journey of discovery of art, one that has led to friendships with extraordinary artists and craftspeople. I wanted to share the fruits of that experience with others because I believe everyone has the right to learn and be inspired by creative ideas without boundaries.”

The Founding Director of MAP is Kamini Sawhney, previously the head of the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation in Mumbai, that served as the modern art wing of the Prince of Wales Museum. Bringing institutions together in collaborative projects has been one of her special skills enabling audiences in India the opportunity to experience exhibitions in collaboration with Tate, London; Foam, Amsterdam; the Duke University, Durham; and the KNMA, New Delhi. Sawhney was selected as one of the first candidates for the Brooks fellowship at Tate Modern, London, in 2014 in collaboration with the Delfina Foundation.

Kamini Sawhney said: “The MAP collection with its range and breadth across all forms of visual expression give us the chance to share our stories in depth in a unique way. Blurring the lines of division between ‘high art’ and ‘popular culture’,  crossing art forms, we are determined that MAP will breathe new life into the museum experience and encourage a whole new generation to discover the joy of art.”

Architects Soumitro Ghosh and Nisha Mathew formed Mathew & Ghosh Architects in 1995. The firm has been the recipient of numerous Indian as well as international awards, such as the World Architecture Community Award, A+D & CERA Architecture Award, TRENDS Award for Architecture & Design and EDIDA. Their works in Bangalore include Freedom Park (2011) , the transformation of the Old Central Jail into an urban Park of Possibilities;  the National Martyrs Memorial (2013), dedicated to the memory of those who gave their lives for the country since independence in 1947;  and Cinnamon (2013), a lifestyle store housed in a transformed colonial building dating from 1892. MAP will be their first museum building.

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Commenting on the design of the building, Soumitro Ghosh said: “Museums today are about public engagement and space. We see our responsibility as architects to give complete foreground to art in all possible ways. Lightness of design and the freedom for light to shape spaces are key characteristic in all our works. For MAP, the issue of accessibility, rarely prioritized in public buildings in India, is important and so the physical space is designed in such a way as to be exceptionally accessible and inclusive.”

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