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Mumbai: A City Through Objects

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Mumbai: A City through Objects
101 Stories from the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum
by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta

About the Book:          
Museum objects are time machines. They allow us a peek into a civilisation long past or bring us close to today’s issues. Mumbai: A City through Objects tells the story of a city through unique objects in the collection of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, the erstwhile Victoria and Albert Museum, Bombay. The city and the Museum developed together, each inflecting the other’s evolution. Like all great global cities, Mumbai has an extraordinary history which many writers have explored. No one has, however, interpreted the city through its artefacts, and the objects that were produced by its many craftsmen, which bespeak the efforts of the many ordinary people who participated as much as its great heroes in its making.

Like the city, the Museum too has experienced a metamorphosis. It won UNESCO’s 2005 Asia Pacific Award for a comprehensive restoration and has pioneered contemporary art exhibitions that are presented in the historic space as a rebuttal to colonial exclusionary politics. It has won many awards for achievements and is recognised as a leader among museums in India.

"The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum is one of Mumbai’s hidden gems, and Tasneem Mehta does full justice to its wonderful collection of artworks, objects and archival materials." – Amitav Ghosh, Author

"The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum is one of the great gems of Mumbai. Tasneem Mehta’s rich, fascinating, and consistently enlightening book provides new insights into how the history of Mumbai can be traced through the collections and how, in turn, this unique world city made the museum." – Tristram Hunt, Director, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

"Tasneem Mehta has effectively restored the importance of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum to claim the eminent place it now occupies in the cultural life of Mumbai. Mehta’s remarkable compendium of the museum’s collection, Mumbai: A City through Objects, is more than a wonderfully edited book; it is a living monument to the landmarks of civic memory." – Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University

About the Author:
Tasneem Zakaria Mehta is the Managing Trustee and Director of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. As vice chairman of INTACH, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Mehta has been one of the pioneers of the heritage restoration movement in the country, including the UNESCO award winning restoration of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum.

The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum was established in 1857 and is Mumbai’s oldest museum and one of the oldest museums in India. On May 2, 2022 it celebrated the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the building at its present site and opening to the public as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Bombay. It showcases the city’s art and culture through a rare collection of fine and decorative arts that highlight early Modern Art practices as well as the craftsmanship of various communities of the Bombay Presidency.