Exploring Traditional Crafts through The Crafts Museum in Delhi

Kids with interactive exhibits at NGMA

The museum: The Crafts Museum (National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum) is one of the loved and most visited museums in New Delhi. Located in one part of Pragati Maidan, this museum is one of the largest museums of crafts. It is run and managed by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. The Crafts Museum is easily accessible by the Delhi Metro (exit at Pragati Maidan metro station). The crafts produced by different communities represent a wide range of objects and items. The crafts museum houses some of the finest and rarest pieces of traditional Indian crafts.

The Crafts Museum in Delhi Source: By Anilbhardwajnoida (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The history The setting up of this museum took almost 30 years when in 1950s and 60s, the legendary freedom fighter and author, late Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay visualized the preservation of various traditional arts and crafts and identified this area as an ethnographic space where craftsmen from various parts of India would come to work. The museum holds more than 35000 distinctive pieces that showcases the continuity of crafts and art traditions in India. This wide range collection includes folk and tribal paintings, various embroideries, textiles, various other crafts in clay, wood, stone and metal etc.  It was designed by architect Charles Correa who incorporated the traditional vernacular architecture with a modern design. It has a village complex designed by well known architect  Ram Sharma and Sculptor Sankho Choudhuri for the Asia Art Fair in 1972.
The collection at the Crafts Museum in New Delhi

Galleries: There are various galleries that were developed over time such as Tribal and Rural Craft Gallery, Gallery of Courtly Crafts, Textile Gallery, and Gallery of Popular Culture. Some of its prized collection include Bhoota Collection from Karnataka, rare Kashmiri  ‘dushalas’, handkerchiefs from Chamba, known for their unique embroidery, rare brocade and Baluchari sarees, Kutch embroideries, and precious metal jewellery. The museum is very popular among scholars for its exhaustive collection of textiles.

Activities and facilities: Apart from the collection in galleries, the museum houses Research and Documentation facilities, a very good reference library, a conservation laboratory, a photo laboratory, an audio visual room and an auditorium. Galleries are open from 9.30 am to 5 pm, except on Mondays.



Aanganmanch Theatre in Crafts Museum, New Delhi Source: Wiki Commons

As a Public Space:  Besides being an attraction of a place, they serve many purposes. The craft museum, because of its central  location, is one of the most happening places in Delhi. The museum’s cafe known as ‘Cafe Lota’  draws many people to the craft museum. It is also most liked part of the museum as visitors can come and sit and enjoy the ambiance along with the traditional food. Cafe Lota offers the great variety of cuisines and serves regional food with a twist. The foodies can attend the periodic classes on regional food cuisines as well.  The Lota Shop offers many contemporary crafts pieces of interest for sale and to support the artisan. The uniqueness of lota shop is such that it offers a series of new products that useful besides beautiful craft item.

The other important feature of the museum’s activities is its art demonstrations organized at the saranga Amphitheater, kadambari theatre, Angan Munch and the Pilkhan Munch. The young theater enthusiasts can be seen practicing, chatting and performing at any time. The heat or humidity never dampens their spirit The Angan Manch is a center of activities for young theater enthusiasts. The craft demonstrations and craft shops are a regular feature of this museum and every month, around 50 artisans from different backgrounds are invited for residencies.


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