The news is by your side.

Manchester Museum reopens with first permanent gallery to celebrate the experiences and contributions of South Asian diaspora

0 39

Manchester Museum’s new South Asia Gallery, a British Museum partnership, is the first permanent gallery in the UK dedicated to the experiences and histories of South Asian diaspora communities.

Bangalore March 2023: Manchester Museum, part  of  the  University  of  Manchester,  reopens  to  the  public  on  18 February 2023 following a major capital redevelopment and this new multilingual gallery explores the connection between South Asia and Britain’s legacy of Empire, presenting fresh perspectives on British Asian and South Asian culture and creativity.

The gallery has been uniquely co-curated by the South Asia Gallery Collective, a group of 30 inspiring individuals including community leaders, educators, artists, historians, journalists and musicians.  Showcasing  over  140  historic  artefacts  from  the  collections  of  the  Manchester Museum and British Museum, alongside new contemporary commissions and personal objects provided by the Collective, the gallery presents a range of personal stories that provide visitors with a window into South Asia. The gallery’s story-led design reflects multiple voices and perspectives   on   South   Asia   through   six   overarching   themes:   Past   &   Present,   Lived Environments,  Science  &  Innovation,,  Sound,  Music  &  Dance,  British  Asian,  and  Movement  & Empire.

In  Past  &  Present,  the  public  can  explore  the  ancient  Indus  Valley  Civilisation  through  a contemporary lens, which shares perspectives beyond  archaeologists’ perceptions of that time. It also presents powerful female figures of the Mughal Empire such as Nur Jahan, to reflect on the role of women and reveal the impact of Gandhi’s visit to the cotton mill town of Darwen,  Lancashire  in  1931;  exploring  the  connection  of  Manchester’s  cotton  industry  to  the Indian independence movement.

Lived Environments illustrates the importance of care within South Asian life, and the impact of the British Empire on the region’s environments. Items on display include postcards of tea plantations,   tea   tokens   from   the   18th   century,  an  opium  pipe  and  a  film  showing  the Bangladeshi environmental resistance through floating gardens.

Science & Innovation looks at South Asian innovation through the contribution of three iconic individuals that have often been overlooked, including Satyendra Nath Bose, one of the seminal founders of modern quantum science. Collective member, Fal Sarker, grandson of Bose will share the story of his impact on the scientific professions, including correspondence between Bose and Einstein as “a labour of love to my famous ancestry and his impact on quantum physics”.

Another  anthology,  Sound,  Music & Dance, features various forms of musical expression from ancient instruments such as the hakgediya, a Sri-Lankan conch shell, to the secret South Asian Daytimers raves of the 80s and 90s. Work by Aziz Ibrahim features as part of a listening station – a musician in the Collective, recognised for playing with the Stone Roses and Simply Red, as well as developing South Asian blues which mixes English and Punjabi, whose album describes a family journey from Lahore to Manchester.

British  Asian  explores  identity  through  a  range  of  expressions  from  pop  music  to  art,  and celebrating stories not usually represented by mainstream British Asian culture including women and queer communities. A powerful contemporary painting by female painter Azraa Motala,  explores  what  it  means  to  be  British  Asian  today,  whilst  Taslima  Ahmad,  a Collective member, discusses garment manufacture and South Asian working lives in Manchester.

Finally, Movement & Empire looks at South Asian identity in relation to voluntary and involuntary migration, including the impact of war and the trauma of Partition, which was one of the largest migrations in human history. An NHS display celebrates the importance of the South Asian community  to  UK  medicine,  from  the  1950s  movement  of  medics  to  the  UK  as  well  as   the significant contribution of the community during the Covid pandemic.

New commissions also populate the space, celebrating contemporary South Asian creativity and innovation, including a rickshaw imported from Bangladesh and decorated by communities in  Manchester  and  a  17-metre-long  newly commissioned mural from British artists, The Singh Twins, illustrating an emotional map of South Asian diaspora experience.

A dedicated space at the centre of the gallery will be shaped by ideas and contributions from the Collective and events will be programmed in collaboration with both local and international artists and performers.

Nusrat Ahmed, South Asia Gallery Curator at Manchester Museum, says: “As a first-generation British-born South Asian person, it is really exciting to be part of such a groundbreaking project.  The  co-curated South Asia Gallery envisages a collaborative, iterative space that will generate new perspectives and connections. We hope to engage further  diaspora communities on its opening and support its continual evolution. This personalised approach humanises the gallery, telling stories about real people and their objects.”

Hartwig Fischer, Director of The British Museum says, “The British Museum is delighted to be collaborating with Manchester Museum on the new permanent South Asia Gallery, a British Museum  Partnership.  We  have  learnt,  and  will  continue  to  learn,  a  great  deal  from  the communities and colleagues in Manchester on this innovative project. Creating partnership gallery spaces like these is a vital part of our national programmes work to share our collections with audiences across the UK.”

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.