‘Uncollecting India: Hidden Histories of a Museum' by Prof. Kavita Singh
19th Karl Khandalavala Memorial Lecture
In Collaboration with The Museum Society of Mumbai
Auditorium, Visitors Centre, CSMVS
In the 19th century, many grand artefacts were taken to the V&A Museum, London from India. This paper follows four such objects. Initially hailed as important acquisitions, each of them fell out of favour and was removed from the galleries, for a different reason and in a different way. By following what is not seen, and why, the talk hopes to open a door to other, usually hidden, histories of the Museum.
Prof. Kavita Singh teaches courses on the history of Indian painting and the politics of museums at the JNU, New Delhi. She has published essays on issues of colonial history, repatriation, secularism and religiosity, fraught national identities, and the memorialization of difficult histories as they relate to museums in South Asia and beyond. Her books (edited, co-edited and single-authored volumes) include New Insights into Sikh Art (Marg, 2003), Influx: Contemporary Art in Asia (Sage, 2013), No Touching, No Spitting, No Praying: The Museum in South Asia (Routledge, 2014); Nauras: The Many Arts of the Deccan (National Museum, 2015); Real Birds in Imagined Gardens: Mughal Painting between Persia and Europe (Getty Research Council, 2017) and Museum Storage and Meaning: Tales from the Crypt (Routledge, forthcoming). She has curated exhibitions at the San Diego Museum of Art, the Devi Art Foundation, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and the National Museum, New Delhi.