The National Handicrafts and handlooms museum was designed by the master architect Charles Correa in the year 1990. But its famed name is National Crafts Museum & Hastkala Academy. This is situated in the nook of Pragati Maidan across the Purana Qila. The Museum celebrates India’s rich, diverse, and practising craft traditions. s Craftsmen markets were suffering due to modernisation & loss of connection with traditions; hence, it was set up for them as reference material.
Since India is known to be a culturally diverse country, each & every part of the country possesses its art techniques & traditions; from North to down South to East to West, geological features affect the art practices of its local people.
The availability of materials guides the course of art and craft in those places.
Arts & Crafts | National Crafts Museum & Hastkala Academy
Currently, The Museum holds a collection from various states of India. Over 33000 specimens in various artefacts and arts, those consisting of Textile, Metal lamps, Sculptures, Utensils, Woodworks, Folk Tribal Paintings, Cane and Bamboo crafts, Clay and Terracotta objects.
The elegant examples of textiles include Kalamkaris, Pashmina, Jamawars and Shahtoosh Shawls; embroidered fabrics namely Kanthas, Chikankari works and Chaklas Tie and Die (Bandhani) fabrics, Baluchar and Jamdani Saree, Pichwais, Phulkaris, Orissa’s Ikat fabrics, and many more, Not only this but Tribal textiles of the Lambadi, Toda and Naga tribes of North- Eastern India.
These are preserved with the intent that they would be a source of reference, revival and reproduction of our cultural heritage and Indian crafts. This serves as a guide to tourists who wish to learn about the art & culture of India. This is also beneficial for the master craftsmen, art historians and craft designers, along with the people who are interested to know India’s age-old cultural heritage.
Museum Boasts an art collection of a diverse and unique range of displays. A varied range of objects is made up of Cane, Bamboo, Clay Terracotta Metal, Stone, as well as Wood and Textiles; all these collections are displayed in a total of five galleries, three courtyards and passages of Folk, Tribal and Traditional community categories. All passage walls are covered in beautiful folk & Tribal paintings.
Bhuta Sculpture Gallery displays the sculptures from the Bhuta cult of coastal Karnataka, known to be one of the largest in the world.
The Folk and Tribal Craft gallery sculptures with other daily objects, along with a diverse selection of paintings of the folk and tribal community of India.
Cultic Craft Gallery features all types of other accessories associated with the ritual practices of various religions in India, such as sculptures, Paintings, and textiles.
Court Craft Gallery Court Craft Gallery features objects of exquisite craftsmanship and precious materials created for homes and palaces for the nobility in India.
Textile Gallery covers the colourful collection of Indian textile art of handcrafted techniques found all over India.
Design & Planning
The museum is spread across 6800 sqm. of land, a horizontal play of masses. It depicts true Indianness, with innate emotion towards Vernacular architecture and excellent craftsmanship. As mentioned before, the traditional Indian architectural elements such as internal courtyards, open passages, wooden doors with carvings, pillars, iron screens, and jharokhas make you reminisce.
The design style of Correa is well known – The Museum has square courtyards associated with Vedic kund as displayed in Jawahar Kala Kendra, the square courtyards in the museum do not follow a strict Mandala Pattern but are stepped at several places forming an informal social arena, the variation in levels articulates spaces for rejuvenating the mood says Jain, the Director of the National Crafts Museum in Delhi.
He also adds that the metaphor of Indian streets exists in the low-key building and mentions that the concept of museums and displaying objects was never a part of Indian tradition. All of these courts with different scales also give access to exhibits via pathways in an informal manner. Village Court, Darbar court, and Temple court.
It Retains the timeless quality of India. Around 40% of the area is occupied by courtyard & exhibition spaces. The complex follows a rectangular geometry. Columnar, Planar, and Structure all of these define the space. The amphitheatre at the centre of the site creates symmetry and balance. The circulation is free-flowing, it leads from open, semi-open and closed series of space. The light source is mainly natural light from the courtyards, a pucca building which keeps the experience of nature. It is a load-bearing Structure, which uses exposed concrete, and stone, a pucca building masked with a clay-tiled roof, one story high with walls around 3m high.
Correa often creates a space which is not easy to label. The museum is almost invisible. It doesn’t overshadow the Purana quila across which it sits or the artist’s village complex. The passage throughout the building is a play of unveiling the mystery, in this case, exhibits along the way; The Museum seems unfinished in a way, and Correa deliberately tried to create this sense. All these features make the National Museum speak its own telltale.
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SHUBHAM JAIN(2016). Crafts Museum by Charles Correa. [online]. (Last updated: Feb 7 2016). Available at:http://archmonk.weebly.com/architects-and-their-works/crafts-museum-by-charles-correa [Accessed date: 17/02/2023].
Ramaarya(2022). National crafts museum, New Delhi – 90 minutes at the museum. [online]. (Last updated: June 27 2022). Available at:https://ramaarya.blog/2022/06/27/new-delhi-national-crafts-museum/ [Accessed date: 17/02/2023].