Topics in South Asian Art: Curating India: History, Theory of Museums in the Colony

ART H 414/ 521
  • Quarters: Spring
  • General Education Requirements: I&S, VLPA

This course will survey the history of the art museum in South Asia from its colonial inception in the British Museum (London) and the Indian Museum (Calcutta) through its postcolonial incarnation in the National Museum and the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. Alongside case studies of major public institutions, we shall explore professions, persons, and sites that were crucial to the formation of the art museum in South Asia, such as the international exposition, the department store, the colonial art school, the Archeological Survey of India, the princely collector, and the colonial administrator. Throughout we shall engage theoretical writings on the practices and ideologies of the museum from the nineteenth century until the present, and we shall examine primary materials in collections from locations including London, Calcutta, Bombay, Lucknow, Thanjavur, and New Delhi. This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Students with a background in related disciplines such as literature, history, religion, anthropology, geography, architecture, and feminist studies are welcome.