An arts centre and museum established by the government of Madhya Pradesh in the 1980s, Bharat Bhavan is best known for promoting arts and crafts practised by indigenous artists. It was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi on February 13, 1982. Situated in Bhopal, the museum was designed by the renowned architect Charles Correa who drew out elements from the scenic landscape of the Shamla Hills and created a series of low structures that are spread across the area. These low structures incorporate terrace gardens and courtyards descending down the slope of the hills.
From its inception, Bharat Bhavan sought to be a live centre of creative activity. In this vein, instead of sectioning art into historical periods, the works were displayed with an eye towards “contemporaneity” and co-existence. The Roopankar Museum of art, under the charge of the artist Jagdish Swaminathan was instituted along with a team of students that scouted artists across Madhya Pradesh. The works of artists that came to be instituted and patronised, emphasised elements of tradition as well as individualistic artist practice. Besides serving as a collection of works of art, Roopankar Museum of Art is equipped with workshops for printmaking, ceramics, bronze casting and stone carving. Camps and workshops are regularly organised to encourage artistic exchanges. The Bharat Bhavan International Print Biennial was started in 1989 and the Bharat Bhavan Biennial of Contemporary Art was started in 1986. It has hosted exhibitions showcasing the works of artists such Jangarh Singh Shyam, KG Subramaniam, MF Husain, Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta, NS Bendre, Krishna Reddy, VS Gaitonde, Satish Gujral and Manjit Bawa. It holds over 6,000 works of art by indigenous artists and 2,500 works of modern and contemporary art.
Besides the Roopankar Museum of Art, Bharat Bhavan has several other wings. Rangmandal is a theatre repertory that mounts productions, organises workshops and hosts symposiums and competitions. The centre for poetry is called Vagarth which has a library of over 13,000 books, including several rare manuscripts, and audio and video recordings. It fosters poetry through readings, discussions, workshops for translation and fellowships for writers. Anhad is the centre for music which brings together Indian classical and folk music as well as music of the indigenous tribes of Madhya Pradesh. More recent additions include Chhavi, a centre for classical cinema which organises film screenings and discussions, and Nirala Srijanpeeth, which is an instituted chair for creative writing.
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