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British Library, British Museum and V&A Announce Plans with Indian Partner Institutions

Building on the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 9 June between the Indian Ministry of Culture (on behalf of Indian Cultural Institutions) and the British Library, the British Museum and the V&A, the Director of each of the three UK institutions has outlined their respective plans with Indian partner institutions. The announcements were made as part of the Prime Minister’s visit to India.

The Indian cultural institutions included in the agreement between the Museums and Library are: the National Museum, New Delhi; the National Library, Kolkata; the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi; the Central Secretariat Library, New Delhi; and the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. The British cultural institutions involved in the agreement work together already as members of the UK World Collections Programme to establish two-way partnerships with institutions in Asia to increase access to collections and expertise.

On 9 June 2010 in the UK, Shri Jawhar Sircar, Secretary to the Government of India, signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Indian Cultural Institutions, which was also signed by Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, and Sir Mark Jones, Director of the V&A.

During the Prime Minister’s visit to India, Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, announced the launch of Digital Knowledge Exchange, a new initiative to unlock a critical mass of UK and Indian content in UK and Indian libraries, archives, museums and other cultural bodies. Dame Lynne said, “Using technology to inspire creativity and stimulate international research, Digital Knowledge Exchange will strengthen the cultural industries in both countries and supports the Country to Country MoU through digitisation, knowledge exchange and skill sharing. It will make the shared history and cultures of India and the UK available to researchers and the wider public worldwide through the digitisation of historic and contemporary materials from both countries and stimulate new research and collaboration.”

The British Library also announced a touring exhibition, ‘South Asians Making Britain,1858-1950’ which will highlight key elements of India’s political and military contributions to Britain prior to Independence in 1947. The exhibition launches in the UK in September 2010, and tours selected venues in India in 2011. It will focus on a wide range of other Indian-British networks and interactions, including resistance and activism, contributions to sport, the arts, cultural and intellectual life as well as global politics.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, said, “As a result of the Memorandum of Understanding and the conversations in the context of the Prime Minister’s visit, the British Museum can announce that for the next five years Indian curators will be participating in the British Museum’s annual International Training Programme.

The British Museum will also be collaborating with Indian partner institutions in developing conservation programmes and workshop in different Indian cities over the next three years.

With the British Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum will be working with our Indian partners on a major new initiative to digitise our collections of Indian Company paintings in order to produce, from the collections in both countries, a joint digital resource for research and publication. We are particularly pleased that this new venture will allow a wide public to explore and understand these incomparable records of Indian life, monuments and landscape in 18th and 19th century.”

Sir Mark Jones, Director of the V&A, announced that the V&A had plans for an exhibition of British Design to be shown in India, and one of contemporary Indian design to be shown in London. He said, “The V&A is working with colleagues at the National Institute of Design to bring together the most interesting strands of contemporary Indian design for an exhibition, India Design Now, to be held at the V&A in 2013. We also hope to show British Design 1948-2012, the V&A’s 2012 Olympic exhibition, in India in 2013. We hope that our future plans, to be delivered in partnership with our Indian colleagues represented here today, will go some way to further a mutual appreciation of one another’s cultures and achievements and to build bridges between the creative industries in India and the UK.”

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