Tasneem Zakaria Mehta: Reimagining the Museum: The Transformation of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai
The Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum is the erstwhile Victoria and Albert Museum, Bombay and the oldest Museum in Mumbai. Established in 1855 it showcases the history and culture of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency. After Independence it was neglected as a colonial relic. In 2003 Intach or the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage signed an MOU with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai who own the Museum and the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation who supported the project, to restore and revitalise the Museum. It has now become the hub for exhibitions, cultural programmes and education initiatives. The project encompasses not only the restoration and redesign of the Museum as well as building the institutional infrastructure, but also examining its history through a series of contemporary exhibitions that comment on and destabliise accepted narratives.
(Illustration: Sudarshan Shetty, 'Untitled', 2011, Gold leaf on fiberglass, mild steel, coin box, etched brass, 168 x 78 x 48 inches, Images Courtesy: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum)
Tasneem Zakaria Mehta is an art historian, writer, curator, designer and museum expert who has studied Fine Arts and Design at the Sir J. J. School of Art, Mumbai. She did an under graduate degree in Political Philosophy at Columbia University, New York, a Masters in English from Delhi University, and a post graduation diploma in Art History from London. She has been researching towards a PhD on the establishment of Museums and Schools of Art in the 19th century, at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Ms Mehta has successfully pioneered the revival and restoration of several of Mumbai's important cultural sites. In 2010 she was elected Vice Chairman of INTACH, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. At present she is officiating as Chairman Intach as the Chairman is on extended leave due to personal reasons. She has been Convenor of the Mumbai chapter and member of the Governing Council since 1996.
From 2003 Ms. Mehta is the Managing Trustee and Honorary Director of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai City Museum, (the erstwhile Victoria and Albert Museum) which won the prestigious UNESCO 2005 Asia Pacific 'Award of Excellence' for Cultural Conservation. Ms Mehta conceptualized, curated, designed, and implemented the restoration and revitalization of the Museum. For the first time in India a public private partnership has been established through a Trust for the management of a government cultural institution.
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