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MAP Academy’s Encyclopedia of Art Puts India’s Art History In The Spotlight

Through an open source encyclopedia, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) Academy hopes to make India’s 10,000 years of art history engaging for diverse audiences

Left: Bhuri Bai (Courtesy Hervé Perdriolle); Right: Shah Jahan on Horse (Courtesy the Metropolitan M
Left: Bhuri Bai (Courtesy Hervé Perdriolle); Right: Shah Jahan on Horse (Courtesy the Metropolitan M

There is no doubt that India is a cornucopia of heritage and art, dating back to thousands of years. From ancient cave artworks to modern day artists that have proved their mettle, our subcontinent has made its mark on the international stage. But much of this information remains scattered, undocumented, and out of reach for ordinary citizens, many of whom know little about the treasure that lies in their own land. 


Inviting both the serious student and the curious reader, the platform focuses on the way the regionʼs next generation — one of the largest demographics in the world — engages with its cultural and artistic heritage. “As researchers and readers, weʼre too often constrained by both the biases of political agendas as well as the scarcity of resources,” says Shrey Maurya, the projectʼs managing editor. “The crucial histories surrounding art forms and their practice, which ought to be accessible to all, are rarely introduced in school or university curriculums in the Indian subcontinent. This has resulted in students passing through the education system with little to no exposure to art and cultural heritage”.


Launched on 22nd April, 2022, the MAP Academy is a platform that endeavors to transform the way South Asiaʼs art histories are accessed, taught and discussed — both regionally and globally. Created and maintained by over 40 researchers, editors and academic advisors from across the world, it comprises the first Encyclopedia of Art from the Indian subcontinent ever attempted — starting with over 2,000 articles and definitions, and continuously growing — as well as an upcoming curriculum of online courses. These span pre-modern art, post-independence art, narrative and indigenous traditions, as well as popular culture, synthesising information on the regionʼs over-10,000 years of art history and presenting it in engaging ways for diverse audiences.

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