New Delhi, India

  • Date
  • 17 January 2001

The National Gallery of Modern Art museum sells scores of postcards, but shockingly not of ‘Queen on Tiger’ – one of the most renowned in the collection. I asked the two salesmen why? They sent me to the curator (Dr. Sudhakar Sharma), who was enjoying a cup of tea. He explained this was an oversight and in a year or two when there is another printing, ‘Queen on Tiger’ will be made into a postcard. Dr. Sharma said he didn’t think they’d ever sold a postcard of the superb painting. I said, ‘Isn’t it one of your most important works?’ ‘Yes, but when the committee [government appointed I learned] voted on postcards, someone from here did not tell them how to vote correctly.’

Even more shocking: this museum, one of the largest in India, has been without a director for several months with no replacement expected any time soon. A Times of India editorial a few days ago suggested that bureaucrats should cease to run museums and professional should be hired. I concur wholeheartedly since a little work and care could make this museum a remarkable home for art. Certainly Dr. Sharma, the curator and supposed ‘keeper’ of the works, doesn’t appear to be the right choice.