Birla Academy of Art & Culture
Established in 1967 in Calcutta (now Kolkata), West Bengal, the Birla Academy of Art & Culture is a museum and gallery space that aims to promote the work of contemporary artists and preserve the cultural heritage of India through visual and performance art exhibitions and educational programmes.
The Academy began from the historical collections of industrialists Basant Kumar Birla and Sarala Birla. In 1962, they established a public charitable trust for an institute aimed at collecting, preserving and exhibiting these works for the public. The eleven-storied physical building of the institute was completed in 1966 and formally inaugurated in 1967.
The Academy’s in-house museum has a permanent collection comprising work from the first century BCE to the present day, and include over five thousand works by Indian as well as modern Western artists, including manuscripts and miniature paintings, textiles such as Baluchari sarees and Banarasi brocades, a Persian translation of the Mahabharata from 1811, as well as sculptures from the Vijayanagara and Chola empires.
The second and fourth floor galleries and auditorium of the Academy host educational programmes such as film screenings, lectures, workshops, art appreciation courses and seminars. The institution also has an adjoining school of music and dance, called Swar Sangam which, in addition to its training programmes, holds regular talks and performances. The Academy also has an expansive library consisting of over four thousand books on art and history.
The Academy holds an annual exhibition, Kala Mela, to spotlight lesser-known contemporary artists. The institution has also held international exhibitions showing works by artists such as Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore. Other notable exhibitions include a posthumous 1987 exhibition of works by Jamini Roy; works of the Society of Contemporary Artists, notably their fifty-ninth annual exhibition in 2018; and the Academy’s 2021 annual exhibition, showing works by Raja Ravi Varma, NS Bendre and MF Husain, among others.
Birla Academy of Art & Culture. “About Us.” Accessed May 31, 2021. https://www.birlaart.com/about-us/.
Ghosal, Sharmistha. “Society of Contemporary Artists to Hold its 59th Exhibition at Birla Academy.” The New Indian Express, December 7, 2018. https://www.indulgexpress.com/culture/art/2018/dec/07/society-of-contemporary-artists-to-hold-its-59th-exhibition-at-birla-acedemy-11500.html.
Parampara Project. “Birla Academy of Art & Culture.” Accessed June 16, 2021. https://paramparaproject.org/institution_birla-acadamy.html.
Roy, Samaren. “Calcutta Studies: Arts and the Artists.” The Radical Humanist 65, no. 10 (January 2002): 36–37. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.32106011340970&view=1up&seq=10.
Times of India. “Treat for Art Lovers as Treasures from Birla Academy of Art & Culture Archives to be Displayed from Jan 9, 2021,” January 9, 2021. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/news/treat-for-art-lovers-as-treasures-from-birla-academy-of-art-culture-archives-to-be-displayed-from-jan-9-2021/articleshow/80182821.cms.