The Nidhika And Pershant Mehta Arts Of India Gallery Opens At The MFAH May 16

April 27, 2009

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s collection of Indian art, which ranges across media and over two millennia, will have a permanent home at the museum beginning May 16. The new Nidhika and Pershant Mehta Arts of India gallery will be the third in a series of five permanent Arts of Asia galleries planned for the museum and located in an Arts of Asia wing now in development on the first floor of the Caroline Wiess Law Building. The naming of the gallery in the Mehtas’ honor recognizes their $500,000 gift to the museum. A series of public programs, including a Bollywood film festival, lectures, and activities for families, will take place this spring and summer as part of the Nidhika and Pershant Mehta Arts of India Gallery celebrations.

Indian. Shiva Nataraja. Chola Dynasty, 13th century, bronze. Gift of Carol and Robert Straus.

Indian. Shiva Nataraja. Chola Dynasty, 13th century, bronze. Gift of Carol and Robert Straus.


“The MFAH has always strived to be a place that reflects the city of Houston and its many communities,” said MFAH director Peter Marzio. “Through this major initiative to create a permanent home for the Arts of Asia, we believe we are moving that tradition into the future. The museum’s trustees are enormously grateful to the Indian communities here in Houston for the support and vision in making the gallery a reality, and extend special thanks to the Mehtas for their generous gift.”


“This gallery will be a great educational resource for Houstonians, providing many people with their first comprehensive look at India’s rich cultural history,”said MFAH trustee Prabha Bala. “Along with the dozens of members of the Arts of India support circle, I am very proud to have been a part of bringing our cultural legacy to our adopted home, the city of Houston.”  


Approximately 100 artworks will be on view at any time in the new Nidhika and Pershant Mehta Arts of India gallery, representing diverse subject matter and media from India’s regions and historic eras. The design concepts reflected in the gallery will further convey the art and aesthetic of India, from the selection of color, to the material for the floor, walls and vitrines, to the configuration of the sculptures and columns in the space.


Within the gallery will also be an interactive multimedia space with timeline and videos. Children can enjoy a flat screen animation within this space, created by Pixar animator Sanjay Patel and featuring animated Hindu deities based on the book The Little Book of Hindu Deities, which will be carried in the MFAH shop.


The museum is also in conversation with contemporary artist Anish Kapoor to create a site-specific installation piece for the Portal Project, which commissions site-specific works from contemporary artists for the entrances to the new Asian Art galleries. Anish Kapoor’s recent works include the large-scale sculpture installations Sky Mirror (2001) in Nottingham, UK, and Cloud Gates (2004) in Chicago’s Millennium Park.


Maps and other interpretive materials in the gallery will invite visitors to learn more about the objects and Indian culture. In addition, a wide range of ongoing programs will accompany the new gallery.


Special events are as follows:


May 15, UBS Night for Members

This cevening features Bollywood dance demos and performances by visiting dance troupes from India: Kathak (classical dance) Group and Light Classical Music Group. The evening is hosted by the MFAH and The Consul General of India, Sanjiv Arora.


May 16-June 7, “Hooray for Bollywood!”

This film series in the Brown Auditorium Theater honors the late B. R. Chopra, a leading figure in Indian cinema, with a restored version of his 1957 classic, Naya Daur.  Also featured are three recent releases—Billu, Om Shanti Om, and Rang de Basanti.


May 17, 3 p.m.

Children and Hindu Priest from Chin Maya Mission will sing Vishnu hymns and hymns from Vedas. The performance is free and open to the public.


July 19 and Aug. 23, Creation Stations 1-5 p.m., Sketching in the Galleries from 1 to 4 p.m.

 Families can drop-in at any time on select Sundays to explore the gallery with an MFAH teaching artist, learning new art-making techniques and/or sketching the art in the exhibition.


Target Free First Sunday,1-5 p.m. Sept. 6

The museum will offer free admittance for the day, and families can discover art through an assortment of activities from 1 to 5 p.m., including watching performances and/or family-themed films, making art, hearing a story, and more.



On an ongoing basis, adult tours and story time tours for Pre-K- through 2nd-grade students will be offered. See the website,, for more details.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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