City’s premier location for concerts, political meetings and art activities until the middle of the twentieth century. Old timers will recall that this magnificent hall hosted eminent stalwarts of the country including recitals by Yehudi Menuhin, Paul Robeson, and the Bombay Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mehli Mehta (father of Zubin Mehta); freedom rallies ringing to the voices of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Mohammed Ali Jinnah; annual exhibitions of the Bombay Art Society or meetings of the Parsi Panchayat for which a special provision was made by the donor, Sir Cowasji Jehangir were all held in this C. J. Public Hall.
The artist community, led by the eminent sculptor, Piloo Pochkhanawala and the doyen of art, Kekoo Gandhy protested against the deterioration of the utility of this building from culture to bazaar, which resulted in the decision to convert the C. J. Public hall into a museum for contemporary art, resulting in the C. J. Public Hall being donated by the Government of Maharashtra to the Government of India for the establishment of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, in the year 1984. Introducing floor space into the cavernous high-domed interior of a hall designed along the lines of London's fame Royal Albert Hall proved to be an architectural challenge. Not only could the outer shell not be touched according to heritage laws, but the foundation was also found to be weak being on a sandy base. Delhi-based architect Romi Khosla's design involved constructing a structure within a structure to encase five-exhibition galleries, one leading to another via a teak and chromium stairway, a lecture auditorium, a library, cafeteria, office and storage space for a permanent collection as well as travelling shows. The renovation has taken 12 years but at the end of it all Mumbai now has an exhibition space which meets international standards for lighting, humidity and temperature control. The NGMA Mumbai caters to a new generation examining paintings and sculptures in awe as they are informed about artists and art.
NGMA, Mumbai has 1,457 art collections from eminent artists’ of international repute, which include paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. Some of the acclaimed international exhibitions at NGMA, Mumbai includes, The Enduring Image, Treasures from the British Museum in 1998 to coincide with 50th Anniversary of India’s Independence, Picasso: Metamorphoses 1900- 1972, Italian Art 1950- 1970 Masterpieces from the Farnesina Collection in 2005 and an exhibition titled Stefan Norblin (1892- 1952) A Master of Many Arts in the year 2011.
Exhibitions and Activities in Recent Past
The National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai recently displayed an exhibition titled Amrita Sher-Gil: The Passionate Quest from 1st June- 30th June 2014. These 95 art works of Amrita Sher-Gil are part of National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi’s permanent collection. This exhibition was curated by Yashodhara Dalmia art historian and independent curator based in Delhi. The NGMA, Mumbai collaborated with The Bombay Parsi Punchayat, on the occasion of 10th World Zoroastrian Conference, to organise an exhibition Across Oceans and Flowing Silks from Canton to Bombay 18th – 20th centuries and No Parsi is an Island. This exhibition was on display at NGMA from December 2013- February 2014. In November 2013 selected works of contemporary Hungarian art titled, From Organic forms to Light Art was organised under the Cultural exchange programme between India and Hungary. Alkazi Foundation for the Art organised Dawn Upon Delhi, Rise of a Capital exhibition at National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai. On the occasion of the 100 years of Indian Cinema NGMA Mumbai exhibited an exhibition titled Project Cinema City which showed the Research Art and Documentary Practices in Indian Cinema.
In the recent past, outreach activities coinciding with ‘World Environment Day’ on 5th June 2014 and Draw Self Portrait in June 2014 have been organised at the NGMA. A series of month long outreach programmes “The Zoroastrian Rhapsody” were held in January 2014, which included interactive workshops, film screenings, walk through with curators, and panel discussions. The auditorium serves space for film screenings, talks, discussions and theatre plays corresponding to the exhibitions. The NGMA, Mumbai, shares part with the city’s week- long festival at Kala Khoda every year lending space for film screening, plays, and talks.
NGMA Mumbai regularly organises series of outreach activities, programmes, lectures, panel discussions and events.