Published in 2017 by Steidl, Museum Bhavan is a collection of nine pocket museums and two conversation chambers by artist Dayanita Singh. The book-object takes its title from a travelling museum she created in 2013, which comprises images taken by her from 1981 onwards arranged within movable wooden structures. The structures allow her to rearrange the images and create new connections between them, and let viewers engage with the images in different ways by moving around in the space.
Museum Bhavan, the pocket museum, operates in a similar fashion. The nine individual booklets – titled Museum of Vitrines, Printing Press Museum, Museum of Machines, Museum of Furniture, Museum of Chance, Museum of Photography, File Museum, Little Ladies Museum and Museum of Men — are 3.5 x 5.5 inches in size, accordion-folded and encased within a clamshell box that is covered in a fabric handpicked by Singh, making each of the 3000 copies of this book unique. Each of the nine booklets can be displayed in a different manner based on the space at hand, which would mostly be non-institutional as the artist has made these publications available for personal collection. The two ochre-coloured, hand-stitched booklets — one a conversation between her and the publisher, Gerhard Steidl, and the other a conversation between her and curator-writer Aveek Singh — mimic the spaces called “conversation chambers” that were a part of the original travelling museum.
Museum Bhavan was awarded Book of the Year at the Paris Photo Fair, France in 2017.
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