Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Day at the Museum


I was in the Government Museum on Kasturaba Road, Bangalore. A few other members of the sketch club called Pencil Jammers of which I am a member, were with me. We stood there sketching some of the 10th and 11the century sculptures on display there.

The guards, one a Bengali and the other an Assamese, were very curious about what we were doing. They kept watching what we did and gave their opinion on how we are doing. But, they are highly appreciative. They are so impressed that they found some folding chairs and offered them to the the couple of girls in the group. That was awfully nice of them.

Then comes an officer of the museum and challenged us about what we were doing, almost offensively. "Shouldn't you come and ask for permission before sketching?" I am asked. I explain about Pencil Jammers patiently. I say that the two of the girls are students in a premier, internationally esteemed educational institution in Bangalore and also where I work. I also say that our interests are purely artistic. We are finally allowed to continue.

There is a "No Photography" rules in many musea. I never understood why. Flashes can ruin the pigments in paintings. So, a "No Flash" rule is understandable. Why no photography?

Flashback 1985:

I was in the Birmingham Museum. I was ill prepared for the visit and I wanted to make some notes about some interesting exhibits - Degas' Ballerina - for instance. I went to the reception and asked hesitantly, if it was possible to get some paper. Pronto comes a clip board, five sheets of paper and pencil to boot. It was not a dream. I am told, "Just leave the pad and the pencil here on your way out please?". Thank you very much.


Flash forward:

Here are some of the sketches I made at the museum yesterday.

Tara, Bihar, Ca 10th Century
(Not sure if it is Brihaspatacharya's wife Tara or Vali's wife Tara or the female Bodhisattva or the form of Shakti)

Teerthankara, Ca 11th Century AD


  1. hi Anil,

    We had also a similar experience,after knowing abt the " permission" when me and Dinesh wnet to the officer lady to get the same to do sketches inside , we were bombarded with a series of who,when,how, what,why etc..added to that " can't u see the others outside doing sketching.." and with Dinesh's perseverance ,after detailed explanation ,..she allowed us in...

    This shows how the our prestigious places of art,culture etc are governed (manned) by people who has mere knowledge of opening the locks of the office at 10 and close the same at 6 and nothing about art.They are at the wrong place.

  2. It is always the most unexpected people who appreciate art here and they aren't necessarily among the 'educated'.
    I didn't know that the plural of museum was 'musea'!

    Photography isn't allowed in 'musea' for the same reason video cameras aren't allowed in theatres.

  3. Cityscape seems a good subject for murals. But many themes can of course be painted there, for decoration and as a break and escape from looking at cement. This painting by American painter Charles Sheeler,, would make a good mural as it is as a good painting. The image can be seen as who supplies canvas prints from original art.