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Art and Culture

India gets its first experiential Indian music museum at IME Bengaluru

Vallabh Rao
18th Feb 2018
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The museum aims to educate the visitor on various forms of Indian music across themes - from traditional to contemporary, with a focus on being experiential and not being a mere display of musical instruments.

The Indian Museum Experience (IME) is an initiative of the Indian Music Experience Trust, a non-profit public charitable organisation dedicated to the promotion of culture. The IME is supported by the Brigade Group. In the year 2008, a group of residents of Brigade Millennium, headed by PV Maiya and the Brigade Group came together to form the Brigade Millennium Welfare Trust (later renamed as the Indian Music Experience Trust) and a two-acre civic amenity plot was allotted by the BDA to the trust for the purpose of promoting social and cultural activities.

The trust conducted surveys in the neighbourhood and had consultations with several opinion leaders, artistes and cultural leaders in India, and a large majority indicated a need for and an interest in music-related activities. In parallel, MR Jaishankar, Chairman and Managing Director of the Brigade Group, visited the Experience Music Project in Seattle, US, which is one of the foremost interactive music museums of the world. Thus, the idea of setting up a similar world-class interactive museum dedicated to Indian music was born. 

The IME consists of three parts -

1. An interactive multimedia exhibit area with eight thematic galleries, an instruments gallery, three mini theatres and several touchscreen-based interactives.

2. A sound garden with 10 'playable' musical sculptures such as xylophones, wind chimes and gongs

3. A learning centre with five classrooms, a seminar hall and a library space

In addition, it houses an amphitheatre, gift store and cafe. 

The building was completed in 2013 and inaugurated by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. The Learning Centre wing of the IME was completed in August of 2015, and imparts high-quality music education in various disciplines. The Sound Garden was opened in July 2017 and has become a much-visited destination for school groups and music lovers. The hi-tech exhibits of the IME are currently being installed, and the IME aims to open it to the public in the summer of 2018. 

The lead consultants on this initiative are the world-renowned museum design firm Gallagher and Associates, known for its work at the GRAMMY Museum, Woodstock Museum and several others. The curatorial advisors for the IME exhibits include Pappu Venugopala Rao, eminent scholar and Secretary of Madras Music Academy, Rajiv Vijayakar, eminent film journalist and historian, Jayant Kastuar, former Secretary of Sangeet Natak Akademi, Deepak Raja, noted Hindustani musicologist and author, and Vikram Sampath, author and researcher.

The IME has sourced various precious musical artifacts, such as the Shehnai of Ustad Bismillah Khan and the Silver Paan Box and other artifacts of Bhimsen Joshi, in addition to several hundred rare photographs and audio visual recordings to display in the multimedia exhibits.

“Since the sound garden opened four months ago, over 2,500 people have visited it, including tourists, families and many school groups. The response has been extremely positive and people are looking forward to the opening of the exhibit area in the next few months,” says Manasi Prasad, well-known Carnatic musician and Project Director at the IME.

“The exhibit area of the IME will open in the summer of this year, and we hope it will become the most important music hub of the country. Our learning centre activities are poised to expand with more school outreach programmes, workshops and seminars. We do host several events and festivals every year, and we will be presenting a large multi-genre music festival in conjunction with the exhibit opening. We have several collaborations with international organisations and museums lined up, where we will host their traveling exhibits, and we will send our temporary exhibits to these international museums.”

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