NATIONAL CRAFTS MUSEUM

Delhi
1975-90

This Crafts Museum, casual and accepting of the artisan’s vernacular, is organized around a central pathway, going from village to temple to palace, a metaphor for the Indian street- in fact, for India herself, where all these different kinds of crafts have always co-existed down the centuries. Walking along this spine, one catches glimpses of the principal exhibits that lie on either side (the Village Court, Darbar Court, etc). One can visit any particular exhibit, or alternately, progress through all the various sections in a continuous sequence.

Towards the end of the sequence, the exhibits gets larger and include fragments of actual buildings-since the crafts of India have always been an essential element of her architecture, Finally, one exists via the roof terraces which form an amphitheater for folk dances, as well as an open-air display for large terracotta horses and other handicrafts.

Less than half of the total floor area of 5500 sq.m is open to the public; the rest of the collection is stored in special areas for the use of the very finest craftsmen who are selected from all over India to come and study these archives. In this manner, a potter from Bengal has the opportunity to examine at first hand the best work of his counterparts in Kerala, at the other end of the country- or for that matter, what his own forebears in Bengal had produced two or three hundred years previously. This is a perspective which has hitherto never been available to traditional Indian craftsmen.

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