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Govt. Museum The Government Museum & Art Gallery was designed as a building for the Museum by Le Corbusier. It came into being on the 6th of May, 1968 with untiring efforts of Late M.S. Randhawa, the then Chief Commissioner.
Like the City of Chandigarh, the Museum owes its existence to the partition of the country. The collection of arts objects, paintings, sculpture and decorative arts was housed in Lahore, the then Capital of Punjab. On 20th April 1948 the division of the collection took place by which 60% of the objects were retained as were the objects already re-produced in books and excavated from the sites falling in erstwhile Punjab. The remaining 40% collection consisting mainly of Gandhara Sculpture and miniature paintings fell in the East Punjab’s share. Received in 1949, the collection was first installed in Amritsar and then shifted to Shimla. In 1954, the exhibits were shifted to Moti Bagh Palace, Patiala. It was decided in 1960 that the Museum should have a building of its own in Chandigarh. The plan was approved in 1962 and the work remained suspended for sometime and finaly, the Museum was constructed and opened to public in May, 1968.
The Museum possesses the largest collection of the world famous Gandhara Sculptures after Lahore. There is also a well appointed library in the Museum, which meets the needs of the scholars and students through its stock of 4600 books and refrences of arts and allied subjects.

The Art Galleries are classified as follows:-

  • Gandhara and Hindu Sculptures

  • Miniature Paintings.

  • Contemporary Art Gallery

  • Decorative Arts and Coins

Gandhara and Hindu Sculptures

When Alexander of Macesdonia came to India in 326 B.C., it consisted of 122 different nations. After his death in 323 B.C. his Generals added to the number by setting up additional independent kingdoms. The whole of Western Asia (from the present day Syria right upto Western Punjab in Pakistan) came under Graeco-Roman influence affecting art, customs, fashions, coins and language of the region. The local public intermarried with Romans and Greeks and adopted mixed religions and customs. Gandhara GalleryBy the Ist century B.C., a large number of these foreigners settled in the Buddhist border kingdom of Gandhara (the name derived from "Gandhari", the local tribe settled in the extreme NWFP region). The Gandhara region includes two royal cities Taxila & Pushkalavati near Peshawar. These early settlers converted to Buddhism, built monasteries, temple, stupas and created a vigorous art movement, ‘The Graeco-Buddhist art of Gandhara’. Though superficially there were Graeco Roman elements in this art, it was essentially an Indian art. This art flourished under the various rulers right upto 500 A.D., the famous out of the them being the Kushan King-Kanishka(2nd century A.D.). He conquered Mathura and the movement spread to that area also. It is believed that the art activity declined in Gandhara in 700 A.D and the artisans flocked to Kashmir via Baramula through the Pir Panjal range. There are two major archaeological sites in Kashmir- a large monastery in ruins at Ushkar near Baramula and a similar monastery in the neighbourhood of Akhnur, in Jammu. These sites are popularly called Kashmir Terracottas.
Four distinct periods of this art are the Primitive style (1st centurey B.C.-250 A.D.), the Classical style (300 A.D. to 500 A.D.), the Mannerist style (500 – 650 A.D.), the Baroque style(650-800 A.D.). The Museum has an excellent collection of Buddhist, Brahminical , Jain sculptures. A part of collection came from Lahore. Some were received from Central National Museum and a few others were exchanged from other museums.

Miniature Paintings
Indian paintings with the possible but important exception of early Indian frescoes is for the individual, to be enjoyed one or two at a time. Religionwise, the paintings may be divided into 3 categories - Buddhist, Hindu & Mohammedan.
The Hindu paintings has come to be referred as Rajput on account of its association with Rajputana and hill Rajputs of Punjab. The Rajas in Rajasthan employed artists who left the court of Delhi and apart from this, there was also a spiritual revival in Hinduism. The worship of Krishna spread all over India and it inspired the mystical literature and paintings in Rajasthan and Punjab hills in 12th-16th centuries.

The paintings reflect the belief, customs and traditions of the common people. The main aim was to popularise religion and make it available in every household. Chittor and Udaipur were the main cultural centres. The other centres were Bundi, Marwar & Bikaner, all now situated in Rajasthan.
The Mohammmedan art is called Mughal as the art owed its existence to the encouragement it received from the Mughal empire. The paintings exhibit customs and traditions of the common people in a completely different style. The intent is to the state a fact without any spiritual overtones. The Mughal school of painting started with the Akbar and it attained its peak under the imperial dilettante Jehangir.

Buddhist and Rajput art were symbolic, signifying the spiritual life, with mysticism and the religion chief and dominant features while Mughal painting was frankly secular, and in character, realistic and eclectic.
Pahari Miniaure PaintingThe offshoot of the Rajput school manifested itself in the Punjab Himalayas developing small but highly significant individual role. Often called ‘Kangra Kalam’ after the leading state of the region, the ‘Pahari School’ includes mountainous states of Nurpur, Basohli, Guler, Chamba, Kutler, Mankot, Jammu. The ruler of the states patronised the artists and produced considerable amount of work for local demand including portraits of rulers and chieftains, hunting and domestic scenes and illustration of mythological and religious writings.

By the 19th century, the Pahari artists enlarged their sphere of activities. The Sikh court of Lahore ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh from 1803 to 1839 accorded encouragement to the artists resulting in numerous paintings of Sikh nobility executed in ‘Kangra Kalam’ to start with later evolving a distinctive style. Its themes are 10 Sikh Gurus, the stories of the Janam Sakhi, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Rani Jindon, his sons, courtiers and generals. Apart from Lahore and Amritsar, which were the main centres of Sikh paintings, the others were Una, Anandpur, Kapurthala and Patiala. The famous painters of Sikh paintings are Sobha Singh, Thakur Singh, Kirpal Singh and Jaswant Singh.

Contemporary Art Gallery
Contemporary Art GalleryStarting with the works of Bengal School revivalists artists like Rabindra Nath Tagore and Abhnindra Nath Tagore, the richness of collection is also reflected in the folkloric works of Jamini Roy and the serene paintings of Nicholas Roerick. Whether it is Amrita Sher Gill’s pictorial interpretation of the lift of the poor Indians, Hussains preference of lavish Indian Palette, human element reflected in the abstract works of Dhanraj Bhagat, the popular works of famous artists like Sobha Singh and Thakur Singh or the expressive works of Satish Gujral, the modernity of Indian art in all its aspects is quite different from that of the west. It is the emphasis on the humanistic element that gives the Modern Indian painting a distinct individual character.

Decorative Arts and Coins
Coins are important source of history and al commentary upon economic, social and political movement. The galleries displays some important coins to acquaint the public with its history. Also on display are some of the important specimens of decorative arts.

Other Sections
There is a Pottery section which reveals clearly the complete character of country’s past personality.

Also, on display are some specimens of textiles in the form of Puradahs and Chamba rumals highlighting the trends in Indian embroidery and painting.
There are two temporary exhibition halls which can be hired for display purposes. There is also a Child Art Gallery in the Museum block. It is exclusively meant for children. There is a 180 seat air -conditioned auditorium for screening of educational films, holding of special slide lectures, seminars and conferences etc.



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