New Delhi, India
Photo: Wkitravel Web site (Picture 1331)
The National Museum, New Delhi, India, is somewhat of a hidden treasure. This writer knows many repeat visitors to India who are unaware of the asset. The museum is well worth a visit. Hundreds of remarkable objects are on view from a collection of over 200,000. Some holdings are of non-Indian origin but the vast majority belong to India's heritage. They represent some 5,000 years of civilization, from 3,000 B.C. to the present.
Ganga, 5th century A.D., (Gupta Period),
Uttar Pradesh, terra-cotta,
h: 67.7 l: 29.1 w: 15.8 in. (h: 172 l: 74 w: 40 cm)
New Delhi, India
Photo: National Museum Web site
Sculptures in a variety of materials, paintings, textiles, arms and armor, ceramics and manuscripts are just some of the artworks on view.
Partial view of Chola Gallery,
Photo: Enjoying India Web site, Verseguru (Creative Commons)
Visitors new to the arts of India may find particular galleries more engaging. One such gallery is a room dedicated to the softly modeled, sensual sculptures of the Gupta period, c. 320 - 550 A.D., considered the classic period of Indian art; or, one devoted to the graceful, elegant and otherworldly bronzes from the Chola dynasty of South India, c. 850 - 1250 A.D.
Partial view of Buddhist Gallery with Stupa containing relics of Buddha,
Photo: Albany Kid Web site
Don't be surprised to find the Buddhist art gallery filled with saffron robed Buddhist monks. A small stupa here contains sacred relics of the Buddha. The shrine attracts thousands of worshippers each year.
Views of Painting Galleries,
Photo: National Museum Web site
The museum's miniature painting collection has both depth and breath. Examples of all the major styles and sub-styles of Indian painting are displayed in a series of well-lit galleries. The works astound with their exquisite intricacy. A magnifying glass and small flash light come in handy. Magnification brings out details that are all but impossible to see with the naked eye. In some finely painted areas, artists are said to have used a brush made with a single hair. The sheen of gold, silver and metallic green (beetle wings) employed for highlights is lost without additional illumination. Focused or refracted light from oil lamps or candles would have picked up the glint of these materials. Sadly, most of the silver leaf has oxidized to black but this is no deterrent from enjoying these beautiful works.
If you go to India, don't miss visiting the museum. When there, be sure to avail yourself of the informative audio guide. It makes the experience even more pleasurable
If India is of interest but a trip is not in the future, explore the National Museum's Web site as well as the National Museum's entry on Google Art Project.*
A view from Victoria Peak,
looking north over Central, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon (2011)
Photo: Wikipedia Web site
Travelers often begin their journey to mainland China with a stop in Hong Kong. In this city of dazzling vistas and prodigious shopping, the Hong Kong Museum of Art is commonly overlooked. This is a misfortune since the museum benefits newcomers by offering a comprehensive introduction to China's arts.
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Main Entrance
Photo: Hong Kong Extras Web site
Housed in a modern building in Hong Kong's main tourist area, the museum is easily accessed. The collection, about 15,000 artworks, is neither large by some standards nor filled with national treasures. To give readers a comparison, the Shanghai Museum has more than 1,000,000 objects with at least 120,000 of significant cultural importance. The Palace Museum in Beijing has in excess of 1,800,000 artifacts, of these approximately 1,600,000 are deemed historically valuable and nationally protected.
Large Bowl with Floral Scrolls Design in Underglaze Red,
Hongwu period (1368 - 1398), Ming dynasty
h.: 3.9, diameter of mouth: 8 in. (h.:10, diameter of mouth: 20.3 cm)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons Web site**
The Hong Kong Museum of Art's size is not a disadvantage. In contrast, the amount of objects presented does not overwhelm. Chinese antiquities are organized by material and displayed chronologically in separate galleries. These include ceramics, bronzes, lacquerwares, costumes and furniture.
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Education Corner
Photo: Wikimedia Commons Web site
Docent guided tours and audio guides are instructive and recommended. They impart just the right amount of information and help make the Hong Kong Museum of Art an opportune start to a Chinese adventure.
*The National Museum, New Delhi, India, is part of Google Art Project. Institutions belonging to the project put artworks online in high resolution images and, in some cases, a 360 degree tour of the institution's galleries. To explore the National Museum, New Delhi, India, on Google Art Project, go to the Art Project's home page, main menu. Click on "Collections" and type "New Delhi" in search area. When the drop-down menu appears, click on "National Museum, Delhi."
**This work is in the public domain in the United States.