Bharat Kala Bhavan
The nucleus of Bharat Kala Bhavan evolved in January 1920. Its first Hony. Chairman (for life) was poet Rabindranath Tagore and its Hony. Vice-Chairman was poet’s nephew Silpacharya Abanindranth Tagore. But in reality the credit for the origin and subsequent development of this internationally famous museum goes to Padmavibhushan Late Rai Krishnadasa – a renowned writer in Hindi and a pioneer among the Indian art historians and later on by Dr. Motichand, Shri O.P. Tondon, Dr. R. C. Sharma (Ex. Director), Dr. T.K. Biswas (Ex. Joint Director, Dr. D.P. Sharma(Ex. Director), Prof.Ajay Kumar Singh (present Director).
Founded with a modest collection, the museum has a record of steady growth and its present holding exceeded 100,000. The collection includes archaeological materials, paintings, textiles and costumes, decorative art, personalia collections, Indian philately and literary and archival materials. Most of its collections are historically important, aesthetically beautiful and enjoy certain amount of uniqueness. However, the name and fame of this University Museum justly rests on its priceless collection of Indian paintings. An eminent art historian once declared that the museum possesses one of the greatest collection of miniature paintings. Though the museum’s target visitors are university students, alumni, research scholars and teachers, it also serves as a Regional Museum and caters to the need of a huge number of lay visitors.
A few estimations of very important visitors: Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, visited this museum thrice and in his last visit, he inscribed that ‘Sangraha bahut achchha hai’ – the collection is very good. He was also kind enough to publish an appeal in his journal Young India in 1941 to the nation and wrote that ‘the appeal should receive a generous response from all lovers of art. He was appealing to like minded Indians to donate either in cash or in terms of art objects for the upcoming
institution of cultural heritage. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation of the present building of this museum and he also donated this institution to the nation in 1962. He expressed with utter joy that whenever he visited the museum, the collections pleased him. He also predicted that in course of time it would be an art museum with huge collection. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose commented, after going round the museum that 'I am delighted to visit this wonderful institution. May God grant this institution a career of increasing prosperity'. H. Cousin, an art historian, visited this museum in 1936 and said that 'such a museum and art gallery at the heart of Aryavarta is a priceless legacy not only to India but to a world culture'. Sir Leonard Wolley, the famous archaeologist said, ‘I have greatly enjoyed my visit to this museum’ and Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the great archaeologist remarked that 'the museum had one of the greatest collection of Indian paintings and he hoped that it should be a universal centre of pilgrimage'. Almost similar sentiments were predicted by Acharya Nandalal Bose who after going round the collection did forecast that 'it would be a place of pilgrimage to all artists'. On the occasion of Golden Jubilee of Bharat Kala Bhavan – Art and Archaeological Museum of Banaras Hindu University a special feature was published under the title ‘Golden Jubilee’ in SPAN Vol. XI, No. 6 June 1970 in which the distinctive features of the Museum were highlighted.
Present Status: Bharat Kala Bhavan is considered as the best University Museum in India, if not in Asia. There is no university in India which has a museum of this dimension. There are approximately six hundred museums in India today and even among these museums of diverse nature Bharat Kala Bhavan has permanently carved its niche and is being considered among the seven-eight best museums in the country. The museum is fully dedicated to the cause of higher education and multidisciplinary researches. The academic possibilities of this museum being immense, it has acquired the status of a university museum of national importance.