Spotlight

Every month, we explore a theme that throws new light on the objects in our collection

June 2021

Age of the Empires


The thrill of serendipity, the awakening of the imagination, the inevitability of being devoured heart and soul by a world you didn’t even know existed until this moment. In a way, being a student of history is like being an astronomer. Especially if the subject of study is an ancient or forgotten kingdom. Click to… Read more »

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January 2021

People of India


“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” As the chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair in the early 1900s, Edward Steichen knew what he was talking about. Portraiture is the result of a dynamic collaboration between photographer and model, both of whom colour the final frame with… Read more »

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October 2020

Madhubani


Welcome to the historic land of Mithila, home to a beautiful art that is part-myth and part-memory. Today a town called Madhubani in Bihar houses some of the most gifted artists of this tradition. We are proud to present our second film Madhubani – Art from a Sacred Land, which travels to a tiny hamlet… Read more »

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August 2020

Jewel in the Crown


The richest province of one of the richest empires in the world, Bengal was a smorgasbord of irresistible little luxuries. Sumptuous chintzes that never lost the roses in their cheeks. Creamy cottons that felt like the caress of spring. Muslins so fine, they were given names like shabnam (evening dew),  abraban (running water) and tanjeb… Read more »

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June 2020

Tholu Bommalaata


A Tholu Bommalaata performer pours their whole person into not telling, but showing you a story. Their hands cut, cure and craft the leather puppets. Their strong voices send the epics soaring into the night air. Every muscle in their body, from the arms working the figures to the toes beating out a rhythm on… Read more »

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February 2020

Flowers for Spring


Vasantam. Basant. Spring. A time to put away the winter greys and take a deep breath before the onslaught of summer. About now, the earth itself seems to get in the spirit of things by spreading a crazy quilt of colours over the landscape. Flowers don’t care where they bloom, whether in a perfumed garden… Read more »

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January 2020

The Hyderabad Affair


If you’ve never been to Hyderabad, you might associate certain stereotypical things with it, like the jaw-dropping Nizam’s jewels that leave the vaults of the RBI to make their appearances at crowded exhibitions now and again. Or what many consider the definitive dum biryani—and they’re willing to fight you over this. Or the behemoth that… Read more »

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November 2019

Festivals of India


When we attempt to express in English the reasons why we celebrate what we do in India, there’s a tendency to fall back on some cliched answers. We celebrate the harvest in our concrete jungles, or ‘the triumph of good over evil’, or the birth of a great soul, a mahatma. These are accurate reasons,… Read more »

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October 2019

History of Style


Class, caste, gender, faith, community, identity. We give away so much of who we through what we wear. Looking at 19th-century photographs and watercolour portraits from the Indian subcontinent, it might seem like our ancestors dressed more conservatively, seeking to hide everything but their social status which they wore like an armour. But we can… Read more »

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September 2019

Battles & Battlefields


Come with us as we visit the bloodiest battlefields in our archives and find stories both inspiring and hair-raising. There are heroes here and villains too. But there’s a little bit of truth in both their accounts. While the British may have over-stretched their imagination while documenting the Uprising of 1857, they were grudging in… Read more »

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