Accepted Paper:

Branding the nation through art: The case of the Jaya He GVK New Museum in Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport  


Caroline Lillelund (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores the way art is used to brand the Indian nation and the GVK conglomerate in the museum exhibitions installed in Mumbai's new international airport and points to the potential of the museum form as a means of validating not only art and artists, but also nations and corporations.

Paper long abstract:

In the course of the past decade a number of new private museums for modern and contemporary Indian art have been established by ultra-rich industrialist art collectors in the Indian metropoles.

Showcasing the owners' private collections in exhibition spaces set up in corporate parks and even in a shopping mall the new Indian art museums mainly serve the new educated upper middleclasses, while branding the owner's businesses as culturally sophisticated.

Owned by the GVK conglomerate that operates Mumbai's new international airport the Jaya He GVK New Museum is one of the latest new private museums in India and by far the largest single exhibition of Indian art in Mumbai today with more than 5500 works on display and a potential audience of 45 million passengers travelling to and from the city every year. Combining antiquities, folk art and crafts with modern and contemporary Indian art in large scenographic wall installations, the museum aims to represent India as both an ancient and culturally rich civilisation and a modern nation with a global outlook to make the people of India feel proud of their country. But what is actually on display in the museum? What is supposed to make the Indian travelers proud and how are newcomers presented with Indian art and culture in the arrival halls?

The paper examines the ways that the exhibitions and discourses of the Jaya He GVK New Museum brands the nation as well as the GVK conglomerate as modern and culturally sophisticated in a fast globalizing world.

Panel P079
For an anthropology of the art world: Exploring institutions, actors and art works between circulation and territorialisation processes