Delhi Dweller

Housing A 2,000 Strong Showcase Collection, Have You Been To Sangeet Natak Akademi Museum?

While it is the hard work of people that props up a country’s foundation, it’s music, literature and dance that impart a civilisation its distinct identity. The wealth of India’s cultural heritage is no secret and it has always been the tradition for the rulers of the country to give cultural practices the prominence they truly deserve.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi is independent India’s premier national institution for the performing arts, inaugurated in 1953 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. It lies at the heart of the city, not very far from CP.

Rich Heritage

Through events, exhibitions and literature, the Akademi plays its part in promoting the diverse performing arts of the country. It also houses an extensive museum, which preserves artifacts that open a window into India’s rich artistic history to scholars, enthusiasts and novices alike. The collection, over 2,000 strong, is divided into various categories, read on!

Asavari - For Musical Instruments

Inaugurated in 1964 by celebrated violinist Yehudi Menuhin, ‘Asavari’, the gallery of musical instruments features a painstakingly assembled range, acquired through a methodical collection, as well as through gifts from musicians visiting the academy. 

Out of a collection of 600 musical instruments, 250 have been kept on permanent display at the museum. While the more familiar instruments are clearly displayed, rare ones such as the Nagaswaram, Dilruba, Bortal, Ghatam, Kachua Sitar and Gottuvadyam can also be seen, defining the talents of India’s best through the ages.

Intriguing Masks

Folk ritual, traditional drama and dance performances often require intricate costumes and accompaniments, indispensable to the art form that they are used in. The Akademi Gallery houses a variety of masks from all over India. Among the many kinds you can find here are Chhau masks from Jharkhand, Zari masks from Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Krishnattam masks from Kerala. The masks, however, are part of a reserved collection and you need to seek permission from the Akademi before you can go see them.

Colourful Puppets

Puppetry as a performing art has always been a popular element of Indian culture, whether as a medium for parables and fables for children or for the telling of epics. Puppets, though dwindling, are also used as a mode of protest and a medium of social change in the modern Indian democracy. 

The Sangeet Natak Akademi Museum houses a large collection of puppets, representing different kinds of puppetry. These include the wooden ‘Kathputli’ string puppets from Rajasthan, the ‘Benir Putul’ glove puppets from West Bengal, ‘Kalasutri’ puppets from Maharashtra and the ‘Tolu Bomalata’ shadow puppets from Andhra Pradesh.

The gallery also gives researchers, enthusiasts and visitors access to reference material while also providing for photography and filming if you feel the need.

With so much to look forward to, this museum definitely deserves a visit!

Location | Sangeet Natak Akademi Museum - Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Firoz Shah Road