The Bihar Museum Biennale 2020 is the first ever Museum Biennale in the world, and as such it looks to ideate, explore, and innovate the place that museums hold in developing the national identity and the cultural narrative of a country. Culture is the expression of the human spirit, it is also a barometer of the times in terms of the social constructs, political ideology, economic markers, and artistic freedoms embodied in a particular time. Museums are uniquely placed to be records of subtle yet significant changes within society and the soft power of museum cultures is more relevant today in a world plagued by polarizing discourse. The Bihar Museum Biennale 2020, is a three-month celebration of museums and museum cultures from its date of inauguration 25th March 2020 to 1st July 2020. With fourteen key institutions from all across India participating in a dialogue on the future of the cultural narrative of the subcontinent from museums of memory, to museums of folk art and traditions, there will be an inquiry of indigenous art histories and colonial influence, and the significance of moving towards an engaging learning landscape of touch and play within the Indian museum space.
We are exploring questions such as what makes the elements of the contemporary Museum. Can the Museum be an open space for conversation? How do we comprehend the role of new cultural icons whilst preserving the relevancy of the past? Discovering museums as a site of Incubation, Ideas and Innovations, to New Museums and New Audiences in the Virtual Age. Finally how can we truly make the Museum, a museum of the people, for the people, and by the people?
Some of our visiting speakers through the three month period are British Art Historian Neil MacGregor, Catalan Indologist Oscar Pujlon, Sophie Makariou from the Musee Guimet, Paris, Sabitha Satchi art and literary critic and curator, Marion Ackerman from the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Sarit Kumar Chaudhari from Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Dr Rima Hooja, City Palace Museum, Ashok Adiceam from Delhi Art Gallery, Dr Alka Pande project director for the Bihar Museum Biennale, Maria Balshaw from Tate Modern, Dr Souraya Noujaim from the Louvre, Abu Dhabi, and Sabyasachi Mukherjee director of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, to name a few.
The participating museums bringing their treasures to biennale include: The Bihar Museums, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Vastu Sanghralaya, Indira Gandhi Rashtirya Manav Sangrahalaya, Museum of Photography, Museo Camera, Kanha Museum of Life and Art, Salarjung Museum, Viraasat-e-Khalsa, City Palace Museum, National Gallery of Modern art, Kiran Nadar Museum, and Assam State Museum to name a few. There will be an exciting number of performing art pieces, discussions, and workshops on performance art in the month of April, in May we look at new technologies in restoration and dig sites geared especially at young learners, and lastly Bhasha; a literary festival which celebrates the marriage between regional Indian voices and Indian English literature.
Director of Museum Biennale: Dr Alka Pande
Bihar Museum Biennale Project Coordinator: Girinandini Singh and Krittika Kumari