UK’s First Permanent South Asia Gallery Will Be Unveiled in Early 2023
In partnership with the British Museum, Manchester Museum (which is part of the University of Manchester) has announced the opening of its new South Asia Gallery in February 2023, the first permanent gallery of its kind in the UK.
Coming Soon: Manchester Museum’s South Asia Gallery
Following major redevelopment, Manchester Museum is set to open in February 2023, at the same time unveiling its new South Asia Gallery. The gallery will explore the connection between South Asia and Britain’s legacy of Empire, presenting fresh perspectives on British Asian and South Asian culture and creativity.
Nusrat Ahmed, South Asia Gallery Curator, said: ‘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,’ Ahmed added. ‘This personalised approach humanises the gallery, telling stories about real people and their objects.’
What Can We Expect To See At The South Asia Gallery?
Uniquely curated by the South Asia Gallery Collective – a group of 30 community leaders, educators, artists, historians, journalists and musicians – the space will showcase contemporary commissions, personal objects and stories, and over 140 historic artefacts from the Manchester Museum and the British Museum, all hoping to offer visitors a new window into South Asia.
Key new commissions include:
- A rickshaw imported from Bangladesh and decorated by communities in Manchester
- A 17 metre long mural by The Singh Twins, illustrating an emotional map of South Asian diaspora experience
- A listening station playing work by Collective member Aziz Ibrahim – a musician who has played with the Stone Roses and Simply Red – who mixes English and Punjabi and whose album describes a family journey from Lahore to Manchester
- A painting by Azraa Motala exploring what it means to be British Asian today
- An NHS display which will celebrate the importance of the South Asian community to UK medicine, from the 1950s to the Covid pandemic.
There will also be a series of events and performances and a public programme for visitors to experience.
With a story-led design, the objects will be presented across six themes:
Past & Present: exploring the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation through a contemporary lens, presenting powerful female figures of the Mughal Empire, and exploring the connection of Manchester’s cotton industry to the Indian independence movement.
Lived Environments: illustrating the importance of care within South Asian culture and the impact of the British Empire on the region’s environment (showing tea plantations, an opium pipe, and Bangladeshi floating gardens).
Innovation & Language: looking at South Asian innovators, including Satyendra Nath Bose (one of the seminal founders of modern quantum science) and collective member, Fal Sarker (grandson of Bose, who will share the correspondence between Bose and Einstein as ‘a labour of love to my famous ancestry and his impact on quantum physics’).
Sound, Music & Dance: featuring musical expression from ancient instruments (like the hakgediya, a Sri-Lankan conch shell) to the secret South Asian Daytimers raves of the 80s and 90s.
British Asian: exploring identity through a range of forms, from pop music to art, and celebrating stories not usually represented in the media, including women and queer communities
Movement & Empire: examining South Asian identity in relation to voluntary and involuntary migration, including war and the trauma of Partition.
Manchester Museum will reopen and the South Asia Gallery will launch on 18 February 2023. museum.manchester.ac.uk
Featured image: South Asia Gallery Collective (c) Maryam Wahid
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