MAP is custodian to a growing collection of over 18,000 works of art, predominantly from South Asia and dating from the 10th century to the present. It is one of the most diverse and important collections in India. A special highlight is our seminal collection of historical and contemporary photography and popular culture, which is rare for an Indian museum. MAP’s collection can be categorised into six key genres: Pre-Modern Art, Modern & Contemporary, Photography, Folk & Tribal, Popular Culture, and Textiles, Craft & Design.
The Pre-Modern Art collection holds some of the most exemplary works of Indian art. Among its highlights are manuscript paintings, including masterpieces from the Mughal, Jain, Rajput and Pahari school traditions; Chola bronzes; temple art from Southern India; as well as Mysore and Tanjore paintings. The collection also comprises art works that are generally considered beyond the canonical framework of Indian art history, such as pichwais and paithan paintings, encouraging a broader definition of ‘Indian Art’ and serving to link historical art to contemporary practice.
The Modern and Contemporary Art showcase offers a wide cross-section of the most significant trends and movements in Pre and Post-Independence Indian Art. Among the world renowned artists represented in MAP’s collection are Jamini Roy, Bhupen Khakhar, Jyoti Bhatt, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Ravinder Reddy, Ravi Varma, Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, Benode Behari Mukherjee, Ramkinkar Baij, M.F. Husain, J. Swaminathan, V.S. Gaitonde, K.G. Subramanian, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, Mithu Sen and Riyas Komu.
The most extensive, and perhaps the finest in the country, MAP’s Photography collection includes works from the 19th century by photographers such as Samuel Bourne, John Burke, Francis Frith, William Johnson, Colin Roderick Murray, John Edward Saché, Charles Shepherd, E. Taurines and Raja Deen Dayal; to 20th-century prints by significant photographers, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Marc Riboud, Martine Franck, Raghu Rai and T.S. Satyan. Additionally, the inclusion of contemporary Indian photographers, such as Dayanita Singh, Vivek Vilasini and Gauri Gill, make this an extremely comprehensive and remarkable collection.
The Folk and Tribal Art section of the museum displays a wide range of India’s regional communal artistic practices. The showcase includes relatively under-appreciated traditions such as patua scrolls from Bengal, shadow puppets from southern India, Bhuta idols from Karnataka, and religious terracottas from Tamil Nadu. It also comprises works by some of India’s best-known contemporary artists, such as Jangarh Singh Shyam, Warli paintings by Jivya Soma Mashe, and Mithila paintings by Baua Devi.
Featured in this genre are examples from India’s printing and advertising industry from the 19th century, to the arrival of the digital age in the late-20th century. Woodcut block prints, the oleographs of Raja Ravi Varma, Nathadwara collages, Kalighat paintings, educational charts, textile labels, calendar art, commercial art, and a range of Bollywood paraphernalia from lobby cards to posters are all part of the collection.
MAP’s Textiles, Craft and Design collection includes important examples of textile traditions of the subcontinent, such as patolas, chintz hangings, kalamkaris, pahari rumaals, phulkaris and kanthas, in addition to works representative of many other techniques and styles. It is also home to a variety of decorative arts such as furniture, design, and jewellery that demonstrate the extraordinary technical expertise of Indian artisans working in these fields.