Delhi set to get a ‘live museum’


By Express News Service

Recently, novel museum concepts were invited by Serendipity Arts Foundation to gain a sense of how a new museum could look. Featured under arts hackathon, titled Confluence Ideathon 2021 x Serendipity Arts Foundation (SAF), the idea was to identify and crowd source innovative solutions for the upcoming Live Museum in Delhi NCR (covering performing, visual, culinary, film, and literary arts).

While the winners were announced in five categories, we spoke with Sunil Kant Munjal, Founder Patron, Serendipity Arts Foundation, on his vision to launch a cultural centre in the Capital that is identified by its working title at present – Live Museum. Excerpts:

Could you give us a sneak peek into the upcoming arts and culture centre in New Delhi?

The idea behind an arts and culture centre that has the working title of ‘Live Museum’, emerged by adapting a global model to a local context. To bring art to the people and to make it innovative and accessible, the design of the museum prioritises a high level of engagement with its key occupant: the audience. It aims to promote the region’s diverse artistic and creative expressions, while expanding the vision and mission of the SAF. The centre will be a platform for diverse cultural activities, experimentation and a space for innovative thinking and entrepreneurship in the creative industries. The museum will witness a certain inter-disciplinary between various arts – the key concept on which the Live Museum is being designed.

Sunil Kant Munjal

What are its primary features?

A unique aspect of the festival has been the ability of audiences to discover a play when they have come to see an exhibition, or walk into an open-air music performance after completing a culinary workshop. These encounters, discoveries are unexpected for the visitor, and that is where the source of unplanned joy or serendipity rests. But for the curators and artists, it has always been a key part of thinking about how to present art in a porous, dynamic and fluid way, and the team at Serendipity works hard to ensure that there’s always something new, unknown around the corner. It is this touch we hope to introduce to every part of the live museum.

What led you to arrive at this idea and when?

Since inception, our foundation has always sought creative inclusion and access to the arts. To achieve that we have been following a multi-disciplinary approach in our programming, spread across a full calendar year, across locations, platforms and venues. This quest of scouting for and then readapting it to be the desired spaces/structures, have always left us wanting to create a permanent space for the arts, to add greater permanence and continuity to the projects and artists we bring together. The Live Museum also gives us the opportunity to collaborate, partner and re-invent our outlook and curation, so that programming can continue yearround. The Live Museum will provide the space to deepen and strengthen these initiatives through informal and formal academy structures such as study centers, auditoriums, and open-air theatres. Over the past five years, Serendipity Arts Foundation has built up a critical mass and has become known for its annual event Serendipity Arts Festival; taking art out of the white cube and into the different publics that coexist in a city. A permanent physical space will help us foster these learnings and approaches

Given the pandemic, what is your take on people visiting the cultural centres?

The Live Museum is working on a timeline that learns from the pandemic and goes beyond the pandemic taking into account the newer formats of art representation that are arising both digitally and physically. We will look into incorporating all the needed measures, upcoming innovations and adhere to all the health and safety standards to ensure the wellbeing of our visitors and create opportunities for a memorable and engaging experience.

Why was Delhi chosen as the site for the new centre?

New Delhi, which continues to house Serendipity Arts Foundation’s year-long programming and residencies, provides us with the provocations necessary in thinking of the future how can we enable cross-geographic, cosmopolitan engagements without eschewing the histories of the region? The site in New Delhi, a city that holds significant cultural institutions yet has an absence of an interdisciplinary space that brings together performing, visual, culinary arts, will serve as not a self-contained point,
but a pulsating force whose impact we hope will be felt beyond all borders.

Winning solutions

  • ART x Technology: Budhaditya Chattopadhyay for his project Dhvāni, an AI-Driven interactive media sculpture that highlights ideas around networks and our interconnectivity
  • ART x Environment: UnEarth presented a project which rethinks the way we see architecture. The project presents a museum literally ‘unearthed’ from the site to create a zero-carbon space where the shape and structure are formed directly from the raw materials present on the site.
  • ART x Social Behaviour: Team Neev presented a project titled Art Scrabble to offer collaborative and confidenceboosting experiences/activities that will foster human connections and make the museum a centre of human interaction
  • ART x Design for the Future: Whoastudio from Malaysia presented their project titled Sigh of Hope. It aims to engage the public through participation in assembling inflatables and prefabricated furniture to encourage new forms of interconnectedness post Covid.
  • ART x Business Models: Atypical Advantage developed a model for a new arts ecosystem that helps generate an economic reward for artists and creative professionals.

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