The Academy of Fine Arts was formally established in 1933, as “The Indian Academy of Fine Arts” in the Indian Museum. The annual exhibitions were held in the first floor of the Indian Museum building on Chowringhee Road. The Academy started its activity in the present building on 11 September 1960, with the exhibition of 50 art works of Acharya Nandalal Bose.
In the year 1962, on the occasion of the birth centenary of Tagore, Dr. B.C. Roy, then Chief Minister of West Bengal, inaugurated the new Rabindra Gallery of the museum. It was possible due to the munificence of Smt. Ranu Mookerjee, who not only donated her entire collection but also supervised personally its installation and financed the newly built annexe, known as the Rabindra Gallery. Thus the museum of the Academy of Fine Arts started its journey with the setting up of the Rabindra Gallery in 1962. This is the first permanent gallery that forms the nucleus of the museum. Later gradually other galleries were added like Miniature Art Gallery and Contemporary Art Gallery in 1966, Old Textile Gallery in 1968, Old Carpet Gallery in 1969, Old Engravings Gallery in 1970 and finally the Gallery of Contemporary Graphic Art & Line Drawing in 1976.
Academy Of Fine Arts Museum
The museum is a repository of one of the finest collections of paintings by eminent artists. Academy of Fine Arts Museum is housed in the first floor of Academy Building. The entire spacious first floor of the building covering about 10,000 sq. ft area is devoted to the museum of objects of art. The collection of Rabindra Gallery can be divided into three categories – personal effects of Tagore, his letters and manuscripts and his paintings. The outstanding artefacts of this gallery are the Bhanusingher Patrabali, Rabindra Nath Tagore’s locks of hair given to Lady Ranu Mookerjee as her wedding gift. The Miniature Art Gallery houses painting of various schools like Mughal, Rajasthani, Ram-Sita, Rag-Ragini and others. The gallery of Contemporary Art has a good collection of paintings and sculptures from 1900 to present day, that includes Acharya Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Asit Halder, Kshitin Mazumdar, Samar Gupta, Benode Behari Mukherjee, Sarada Ukil, Sudhir Khastagir, Ramkinkar Beij and many others. The Old Textile Gallery has unique collection of Balucharis, Benarasis, Chanba Rumal, Daccai Jamdani, Patola and others. The Balucharis with the names of the master weaver Shri Dubraj and Gostha Karikor are unique. Another important collection of Academy museum is the T. Leslie Martin collection of Carpets that are housed in the Carpet Gallery. The Old Engravings Gallery is rich with the art works of Danielle, Colebricke, Joffany, Atkinson and others. The Contemporary Graphic Art and Line Drawing Gallery houses the works of Jainul Abedin, Nandalal Bose, Ramendranath Chakraborty, Chitta Prasad, Mukul De, Haren Das and others.
Museums play a major role in popularising and promoting our cultural heritage both as in intangible and tangible form and also employed in bridging the gap between our Contemporary with Heritage. The Academy of Fine Arts Museum is an Art museum that serves as a pilgrimage for the upcoming artists that provides them the scope to see and study the paintings of stalwart artists. It has an immense scope of study and research on the textiles, carpets and sculptures. It also aims to preserve the archival materials, enhance accessibility to the material and increase the public awareness of the activities of the Institute founded by Lady Ranu Mookerjee. The museum and archives stand out as an extraordinary source of original records which delineate the landmarks of the history of the development of the first Art Gallery in Calcutta.
At present only Rabindra Gallery & Contemporary Art Gallery are allowed for public-viewing but due to ongoing restoration work, these two galleries are also closed temporarily for the public.
Museum timings : 12 – 7 p.m. (Tuesday to Saturday), Sunday (3 – 7 pm), Monday closed.
Entry Fee : Rs. 25/- per head, Rs. 10/- for school/college student (with I-card)