Well, an encyclopedia of Indian art, courtesy of MAP Academy

Well, an encyclopedia of Indian art, courtesy of MAP Academy | Pro Club Bd

The educational wing of the Museum of Art and Photography of Bengaluru has simplified access to all art-related information

The educational wing of the Museum of Art and Photography of Bengaluru has simplified access to all art-related information

What if you could get everything you wanted to know about Indian art – sculptures, miniatures, fabrics, paintings, pottery and more – in one place? The illustrious team at the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP) in Bengaluru have done just that with their Encyclopedia of Art – a fusion of many years of work. Additionally, they have spread their expertise in the form of online courses that anyone can access.

A little over three years ago, MAP’s Bengaluru-based team began compiling the information they had. “The driving idea behind the project was the lack of art history, which in India is taught as a proper subject within the school curriculum. It’s hardly taught at undergraduate level, with only a small fraction covered in art classes,” said Nathaniel Gaskell, founder and director of MAP Academy, MAP’s education division.

Maharaja by Ajaigarh Lala Deen Dayal, Content from MAP Academy's Encyclopedia of Art

Maharaja by Ajaigarh Lala Deen Dayal, Content from MAP Academy’s Encyclopedia of Art | Photo credit: special agreement

“Since art history isn’t taught as a subject, we’ve started working on online courses to make sure there’s a full curriculum that anyone can log into and learn from,” he adds.

Nathaniel says he started with a small team that eventually grew to include 25 full-time employees and 12-15 consultants.

Launched on April 22 this year, the encyclopedia was born out of the need to create an online knowledge resource. “While many scholars and academics around the world are involved in various areas of research, much of this knowledge is either inaccessible or written in scholarly language. Unless you are an expert or have studied art history, you cannot understand this information,” says Nathaniel.

Stamp seal and impression, content from MAP Academy's Encyclopedia of Art

Stamp seal and impression, content from the MAP Academy Art Encyclopedia | Photo credit: special agreement

MAP Academy staff research a topic or period of history, and then editors help them turn that information into more readable text, following a specific style guide and maintaining a bibliography for each entry. Due to the nature of this vast topic, the content is continually being modified and added to the modules.

“One can argue about the need for an encyclopedia when there is so much information online. The point is, however, where do you look for it? Is it factual? is it accurate Is it somehow certified? We thought there was a real need and it could really serve a whole cross-section of people, because this is not just for students or researchers, but for anyone interested in these topics,” says Abhishek Poddar, Founder of MAP.

Buddha Offers Protection, content from MAP Academy's Encyclopedia of Art

Buddha Offers Protection, content from the Encyclopedia of the Arts of the MAP Academy | Photo credit: special agreement

According to Abhishek, the encyclopedia contains just over 2,000 entries ranging from paintings, sculptures, and artist biographies to historical structures, textiles, photography, and more. “All information is cross-referenced in several places. While part of the information comes from the MAP collection; Much of this comes from Indian art in collections around the world – museums, public spaces, governments, foreign institutions and the like,” he says.

The academy will offer Short courses, introductory courses and special subjects. While the short course is a four-hour self-paced module with a combination of video material, text, pictures and quizzes, the introductory course lasts 10 hours. Special subjects would be an in-depth study of a topic. Some subject areas include history of photography, textiles, modern and contemporary painting, architecture and more.

Celestial Dancer, content from the MAP Academy's Encyclopedia of the Arts

Celestial Dancer, content from the MAP Academy’s Encyclopedia of Art | Photo credit: special agreement

While the courses are still being written and in various stages of production, the textiles segment is available on the website. A short course, Textiles from the Indian Subcontinent, covers 26 topics in ten lessons that include quizzes and a certificate of completion. Open to all, whether a student, expert or enthusiast, the course offers a perspective on cultural history and could benefit someone with no prior knowledge of art or textile history.

Krishna's Longing for Radha, content from MAP Academy's Encyclopedia of Art

Krishna’s Longing for Radha, content from the MAP Academy Art Encyclopedia | Photo credit: special agreement

“We realized that a movement should be without any money transaction. We just want to create a foundation for arts education that everyone can access,” says Abhishek.

For the MAP Academy Art Encyclopedia and online resources, visit https://mapacademy.io/

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.