Bihar Museum Biennale 2023: A Cross-Cultural Celebration of Art, History and Culture Begins

The four-month-long biennale will close on December 31, 2023 and features exhibits from Indian Museums, independent artists and countries like Nepal, Russia, Israel, Costa Rica and Panama.
Bihar Museum Biennale 2023: A Cross-Cultural Celebration of Art, History and Culture Begins

Patna, Bihar: The highly anticipated mega art and cultural potpourri of events Bihar Museum Biennale 2023 is inaugurated by Bihar CM Shri Nitish Kumar on 7th August, 2023, in the presence of Dy. CM of Bihar Shri Tejashwi Yadav along with other dignitaries of the state and abroad.

As the second edition of Bihar Museum Biennale 2023 starts on August 7 in Patna, Shri Anjani Kumar Singh, Director General of Bihar Museum and Advisor to the Chief Minister of Bihar, is steering the museum biennale in the direction of transforming a static space into a laboratory of ideas; and further spearheading Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's vision. He aims to build a strong foundation of museum culture with the Museum Biennale that would bring within its fold all crucial challenges and concerns museums are facing. The four-month-long biennale will close on December 31, 2023

Shri Anjani Kumar Singh, Director General of the Bihar Museum said, Bihar Museum is one of the architectural splendour in post-Independent India of what an experiential museum is. It serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of this land showcasing the creative genius that has blossomed in these very surroundings.”

“The Museum Biennale aspires to shape cultures, foster meaningful discussions, and elevate the museum space into a dynamic realm. At the Bihar Museum Biennale, we view museums as dynamic laboratories of ideas, fostering the generation of knowledge systems and facilitating cultural dialogues between objects and viewers. This unique platform serves as an avenue for sharing histories, strategies,” he added.

The Chief Curator and Artistic Producer of the Bihar Museum Biennale, Dr Alka Pande, is donning the hat of the chief architect of the biennale for the second time. Her curatorial framework is anchored in making the museum “an engaging and welcoming space”.

Museums, once thought of as places of antiquity where visitors merely stand before lifeless, fossilized objects with little engagement, have evolved significantly. Personally, my perspective has been transformed through my involvement with the Museum Biennale and my exploration of the deeper meaning behind museum collections. I now see museums as extraordinary platforms – true laboratories of ideas. The visitor experience they offer goes far beyond passive observation,” says Dr Pande.

“Museums speak of the unbroken thread of a civilization’s memory, creating a space where profound ideas thrive. The Bihar Museum Biennale stands as a remarkable example of this phenomenon, as it not only showcases beauty but also represents the diverse and pluralistic culture of India. Within its walls, the richness of India’s heritage is vividly portrayed, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the tapestry of the nation's history and identity,” she adds.

Organized by the Department of Arts, Culture and Youth Affairs, Government of Bihar, the first-ever Museum Biennale in the country and the world opened in March 2021 in a virtual format providing a gateway to the richness and treasures of Indian museums and also bringing together a highlight of key collections from various museums across the world. The second iteration of the Bihar Museum Biennale promises a transformative experience and aims to surpass its predecessor, presenting a better-enriched form with the aim of connecting people, connecting cultures, and interrogating museums.

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Cross Collaborations at Museum Biennale

With a broadened scope of programming, the grand event commences with the prestigious G20 exhibition, catapulting the biennale onto the global stage of artistic excellence. This year, the biennale features participation from Indian Museums, independent artists and countries like Nepal, Russia, Israel, Costa Rica and Panama.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) is showcasing a rich tapestry of Tanjore art paintings in an exhibition titled ‘Three Dimensions of Divinity - Thanjavur Art Revealed’ that pays tribute to the unique layering technique of the art form. Another display titled “Modern Indian Painting” by the Salar Jung Museum showcases the culture of Telangana through an artistic lens.

The Nepal Art Council has brought the exhibition ‘Nepal: Where The Gods Reside” to the biennale. Through over 70 artworks, the display aims to impress upon visitors the vastness of Nepal's syncretic spiritual atmosphere, as the abode of deities. In addition to these, “Mystic Universe” – an immersive show by Russia will also be on display.

During the course of the ongoing biennale, exhibits of Italian artist Tarshito; artist Brahmdeo Pandit and Udayraj Gadnis, along with works from Costa Rica and Panama will be showcased.

In addition, the biennale has the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art as the Knowledge Partner, with whom they have designed an outreach plan that aims to enhance the scope of public accessibility to art and museum culture through the tool of engagement and interaction.

Symposium and Conversations

The Bihar Museum Biennale 2023 also hosted two sets of symposia between 8-9 August and then another set to be held between 22-23 August.

On August 8, Prof. Yannick Lintz, President Musee Guimet, Paris shared his perspectives on curatorial strategies and displays in the museums. Delving into the changing creative industry paradigms will be Pheroza Godrej, Director, Cymroza Art Gallery and Rakhi Sarkar, Director, Centre of International Modern Art. On August 9, talking about new museums and typologies will be Stephen Inglis, Director General of Research and Collections at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hala Warde, Lebanese/French Architect and Michael Peter Edson, Director, Museum of Solutions, Mumbai. In the next session, shedding light on Indigenous and Intangible Cultural Heritage will be Dr. Lars-Christian Koch, Director of the Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin, Germany and Prof. Amareswar Galla PhD, UNESCO Chair on Inclusive Museums & Sustainable Heritage Development, Anant National University, Ahmedabad.

The second leg of the symposia will begin from August 22-23. 

On August 22, talking about Museum Branding and Merchandising will be Maureen Liebl & Amrita Singh, Muse India Heritage Concepts, Mehrangarh Museum and David Szabo, Head of Management and PR Division of the Beaux Arts, Hungary Budapest. In the next session, shedding light on museum management will be Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director General, CSMVS, Malini Goyal, Tech Journalist and author and Prashanth Prakash, Tech Investor and promoter of Unboxing Bengaluru.

On August 23, discussing emerging challenges in the museum space because of technological interventions would be Pranav Arora, Managing Director and Lead Applied Intelligence, Accenture's AI experience team and Upasana Nattoji Roy, Founder Director of Switch Studio. The concluding session will be on reimagining museums where Dr. Jahnavi Phalkey, Director of Science Gallery, Bengaluru, Zameer Basrai, Co-Founder of Busride Studio will be in conversation with Batul Raaj Mehta, Founding Partner of BRMA and Museum and Culture Planner.

G20 Exhibition: Together We Art

In this collaborative partnership that transcends global boundaries, the multidisciplinary exhibition will showcase the works of 19 artists from G20 member nations and 9 Guest countries. India, also being a G20 member, is showcasing the works of 20 artists from diverse spectrums, with an artwork from each of them.  It integrates the artistic response to many concerns of the G20 countries.

From climate change to gender inclusion, migrations to identity, and global oneness to materiality, The multi-sensorial and experiential exhibition creates the most intricate patterns of human understanding, woven through the web of ideas.

Works of prominent Indian artists spanning mediums – paintings, installations, ceramics --- are showcased in the ongoing G20 exhibition. Representing India are artists: Jayasri Burman, Seema Kohli, Subodh Gupta, Sudarshan Shetty, Arpana Caur, G. R. Iranna, Paresh Maity, Raghu Rai, Ravinder Reddy, Sanjay Kumar, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Rajat Ghosh, Jayashree Chakravarty, Sanatan Dinda, K.S. Radhakrishnan, Ayesha Seth Sen, Himmat Shah, Bose Krishnamachari, Sunil Padwal and P.R.Daroz.

Among international artists, works of We Weishan (China), Thijs Biersteker (The UK), Thalente Khomo (South Africa), Sara Sejin Chang (The Netherlands), Robert Zhao Renhui (Singapore), Misako Shine (Japan), Dylan Mooney (Australia), Zeynep Özüm Ak & Yunus Ak (Turkey), Faisal Kamandobat (Indonesia), Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim (UAE), Jessica Houston (Canada), Francesca Leone (Italy), Edgar Orlaineta (Mexico), among others are on display.

August 7 also marks the “Foundation Day” of the Bihar Museum, which has been envisioned as a place for initiating discourses and engagements, informing people about the nation’s illuminated history.

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