Friday, May 22, 2015

Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad

The Calico Museum of Textile in Ahmedabad is one of the best textile museums in the world. It was established in 1949, a couple of years after India's independence from the British. 

The Sarabhai family, who founded the Museum, were in the textile business. The family was very involved in the Indian independence movement. They were close to Mahatma Gandhi, and they founded many new educational and research institutions in independent India. The Calico Museum was one of them.

Originally, the Museum was supposed to focus both on traditional hand-made textiles of India, as well as modern industrial textiles. But later, as the collection and research grew, the museum came to focus more and more on the traditional textile crafts of India.

The stature and reputation of the Sarabhais as connoiseurs of the artistic traditions of India attracted the best researchers and scholars. Eminent museum scholars and administrators such as John Irwin, Alfred B├╝hler, Moti Chandra and Pupul Jayakar have been instrumental in creating a high level of scholarship at the museum. When you visit the museum, what strikes you most is also the technical excellence - the work of designers, lighting experts and craftsmen - which offers a unique viewing experience.

In 1982, the Museum went through a period of serious crisis, as the Calico Textile company ran into losses and could not fund the Museum's activities. It was then brought under the Sarabhai Foundation, and it moved into the Sarabhai Haveli, from where it still operates.

Today the Calico Museum contains what is possibly India's best maintained and best presented collection of traditional fabrics spanning over five centuries. But it is much more than just textiles. There are two display venues in the Museum:
  • The Chauk contains textile-related displays: explanations of techniques (weaving, dyeing, embroidery, block printing etc), costumes, regional embroideries, textiles of the Mughal and provincial courts, and a display of India's textile trade with the world
  • The Haveli contains Jaina works (manuscripts, textiles, woodwork, sacred objects, etc), Indian paintings from the Sarabhai collection, ritual art of the Vallabh tradition, bronzes from South India, etc.
If you are visiting the museum, please note the following important details:

- The Museum is closed on Wednesdays and public holidays.
- There is no entry fee for visiting. 
- Visits are by appointment only; you have to write to them in advance and obtain permission.
- There are 2 guided tours per day: covering the Chauk in the morning and the Haveli in the afternoon. There is no way to see the galleries just wandering around independently.
- Bags, cameras, cell phones are not allowed. Photography is prohibited without prior permission.
- The exhibits are at multiple levels and require some amount of climbing; but it is easy to do. It is not suitable for wheelchairs.

The Museum website is excellent and informative; please go through the rules and do's and don'ts before you visit.

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1 comment:

  1. Ahmedabad is one of the best textile museums in the world and it is also shrine place in India.