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Metropolitan Museum of Art signs agreement with India's Ministry of Culture
File photo of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Union Ministry of Culture of the Government of India have signed a memorandum of agreement expressing mutual willingness to establish a long-term relationship of cooperation, it was announced today by Thomas P. Campbell, the Metropolitan Museum’s Director and CEO. The agreement was signed on March 19 in New Delhi by Venu Vasudevan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, and Mr. Campbell, in the presence of Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Minister of Culture of the Government of India.

Through the agreement, the Ministry of Culture and the Metropolitan Museum will cooperate in the areas of conservation, exhibition, academic research, sharing of information and published resources, public education, promotion, publications, museum management, and short- and long-term loans.

The first major initiative to launch under the auspices of this new agreement is the Indian Conservation Fellowship Pilot Program, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Stichtung Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL) in the Netherlands. The program provides a new and important avenue for Indian art conservators to pursue advanced training opportunities in North America and Europe, and to develop broader ties with their colleagues abroad.

Another early initiative is the organization of the first major art exhibition to focus on India’s Deccan region. The exhibition is scheduled to open at the Metropolitan Museum in spring 2015.

"This agreement is an important opportunity to collaborate with a group of international colleagues who are dedicated to studying and preserving Indian artistic heritage, a heritage that is so strongly represented in our collections,” stated Mr. Campbell in making the announcement. “The Met has been collecting Indian art since the late 19th century, and our conservators and curators look forward to continuing our work in this field together with their Indian counterparts. Indeed, this partnership speaks to our larger commitment to engaging with a worldwide community as a truly global museum."

He continued, “The conservation pilot program, launching immediately as a result of this agreement, is an innovative model of collaboration with the Ministry of Culture that will provide fellowships for younger Indian conservators to pursue professional development at the Met alongside the Museum’s renowned staff of nearly 100 conservators and scientists. This program would not be possible without the foresight and generous support of the Mellon Foundation, demonstrating once again the foundation’s strong commitment to improving the educational opportunities available to museum professionals internationally.”

Conservation Pilot Program
The Indian Conservation Fellowship Pilot Program is designed to broaden the experience of emerging conservators and to establish a larger and stronger conservation community in India with international links to professionals in the field. A total of 16 fellowships of approximately 3-6 months each will be sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum, SRAL, and the Ministry of Culture over the two-year period 2013-2015. Both the Met and SRAL have longstanding fellowship programs.

Seminars in India will allow fellows to convey their experiences to a wider audience and provide a forum for discussion of the pilot program and for the exchange of ideas on common conservation issues. Follow-up initiatives at museums in India will continue relationships developed at the Metropolitan Museum and SRAL, and will apply knowledge gained during the fellowship period to specific conservation needs and challenges at the fellows’ home institutions.

Upcoming Exhibition
The artistic heritage of the important and highly cultured kingdoms of India’s Deccan plateau will be the focus of a landmark exhibition organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art with the working title The Art of India’s Deccan Sultans, ca. 1500-1700. Scheduled to open in spring 2015, the exhibition will bring together around 150 works from the courts of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, Golconda, Bidar, and Berar, illustrating the great classical Deccani traditions in painting, metalwork, and textiles. The exhibition will also highlight the region’s rich multicultural legacy, revealing influences from the neighboring Indian states as well as Iran, Turkey, Europe, and Africa.

Indian Art in the Collections of the Metropolitan Museum
Art from the Indian sub-continent has been collected by the Metropolitan Museum since 1891 and today, thanks to the generosity of numerous private donors, the Museum boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of Indian art in the West. The holdings of the Department of Asian Art include sculpture, painting, textiles, and various other media that span from 2500 B.C. to modern times, documenting the rich cultural and religious heritage of the sub-continent. Some 350 of these works are on view in The Herbert and Florence Irving Galleries of South and Southeast Asian Art. In addition to these permanent displays, the department hosts an active program of special exhibitions and most recently presented the major international loan exhibition Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100-1900 (2011-12).

Indian art dating from 1500 to 1900 is represented by more than 1,300 pieces in all media in the Department of Islamic Art. Since November 2011, when the department’s newly renovated galleries opened, the finest works of Later Indian art have been exhibited in two galleries: one containing selections from the Museum’s excellent collection of Mughal carpets and textiles, Sultanate, Mughal and Deccani painting, jades and jewels from the courts of Northern India and the Deccan, and architectural fragments; and the other, co-curated with the Asian Department, displaying paintings from the Rajput, Pahari, and Company schools along with a selection of decorative arts and textiles from the Hindu courts of India. Over the past 30 years, the Department of Islamic Art has sponsored several major Indian exhibitions, including India: Art and Culture, 1300-1900 (1985); Flowers Underfoot (1997); Treasury of the World (2001); and Pearls of the Parrot (2005).

The Arms and Armor Department has rich holdings of Mughal and South Indian arms and armor, including a highly decorated armor of mail and plate from the court of Shah Jahan (1632-33). And some 200 musical instruments from India reside in the Department of Musical Instruments, including rare instruments donated by Indian musicologist Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore in the late 19th century.

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