India is best known for its religions, exotic culture, eccentric art and Bollywood. It is the seventh largest country in size, but the second when it comes to population. It is the home of more than 1 billion people and hundreds of deities. Four of the world’s largest religions began here — Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. There is also a strong presence of Zoroastrianism, Islam and Christianity. With so many people, cultures and philosophies shaping the country, it is difficult to store the richness of the Indian culture in one place, but that is what the Mumbai National Gallery of Modern Art is trying to accomplish.
The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai was first opened to the public in 1996. It is housed in what used to be the Sir Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall (Sir C.J. Hall). Since 1996, it has hosted a number of exhibitions and special events that have wowed the people of Mumbai. The opening night featured world masterpieces sponsored by the city’s Progressive Artists’ Group, the most important art group promoting India’s contemporary art movement. Several concerts have been held here including those by the Bombay Symphony Orchestra, Yehudi Menuhin, and Paul Robeson. There are also exhibitions and meetings by the Bombay Art Society held annually. Sr C.J. Hall (before it was converted into the gallery) had also hosted important freedom rallies that were held against British rule.
Until the 1950, Sir C.J Hall was the primary venue for political meetings, concerts and art activities. For some reason, the once all-important hall lost its glory, and became a common venue of less significant local events. In the 60s and 70s it was primarily used for boxing matches, wedding receptions, union meetings and discount sales. It took a bold move by local artists to rescue the Hall from further deterioration and converted into an important art gallery of national importance. The movement was led by respected artists, Piloo Pochkhanawala and Kekoo Gandhy. One of the first improvements that were made was strengthening the structure’s architecture. They actually made a new structure within the old one. The renovation took 12 years to complete, which included the construction of five exhibition galleries, a lecture auditorium, cafeteria, library, offices, and storage spaces. The local art scene came alive upon seeing the beautiful improvements on a historical hall. Residents of Mumbai know their art as there are other art galleries in the city. Today, some of the many items on exhibit that captivate guests are the world-famous sculptures and pieces of art, including masterpieces by Pablo Picasso and a few ancient Egyptian artifacts.
The Mumbai National Gallery of Modern Art is the leading art gallery in this capital city of the state of Maharashtra and one of the many other national art galleries around the country. The National Gallery of Modern Art at New Delhi was established much earlier on March 29, 1954. There, it is known as Jaipur House since it is situated in the former home of the Maharaja of Jaipur. The other national gallery of art is found in Bangalore, which has a total of 500 exhibits spread within large halls in two floors.