INDIA: Gujarat Textile Tour - The Calico Museum
The Calico Museum Of Textiles in Ahmedabad
The Calico Museum Of Textiles in Ahmedabad Is one of the best textile museums in the world. It was established in 1949 just a couple of years after India’s independence from the British. The Sarabhai family who founded the museum were in the textile business.
The family were very involved in the Indian independence Movement. They were close to mahatma Gandhi and they founded any educational and research institutions together with the Calico Museum being one of them.
Originally, the Museum was supposed to focus both on traditional hand mad textiles of India, as well as modern industrial textiles. But later, as the collection and research grew, the museum came to focus more and more on the traditional textile crafts of India.
The stature and reputation of the Sarabhais as connoisseurs of the artistic traditions of India attracted the best researchers and scholars. Eminent museum scholars and administrators such as John Irwin, Alfred Bühler, Moti Chandra and Pupul Jayakar have been instrumental in creating a high level of scholarship at the museum.
When you visit the museum, what strikes you most is also the technical excellence - the work of designers, lighting experts and craftsmen - which offers a unique viewing experience.
In 1982, the Museum went through a period of serious crisis, as the Calico Textile company ran into losses and could not fund the Museum's activities. It was then brought under the Sarabhai Foundation, and it moved into the Sarabhai Haveli, from where it still operates.
Today the Calico Museum contains what is possibly India's best maintained and best presented collection of traditional fabrics spanning over five centuries. It surely is a visual feast! But it is much more than just textiles.
There are two display venues in the Museum:
· Chauk contains textile-related displays: explanations of techniques (weaving, dyeing, embroidery, block printing etc), costumes, regional embroideries, textiles of the Mughal and provincial courts, and a display of India's textile trade with the world
· The Haveli contains Jaina works (manuscripts, textiles, woodwork, sacred objects, etc), Indian paintings from the Sarabhai collection, ritual art of the Vallabh tradition, bronzes from South India, etc.
Please note the following:
- The Museum is closed on Wednesdays and public holidays.
- Visits are by appointment only; you have to write to them in advance and obtain permission. There is no Entry Fee
- There are 2 guided tours per day: covering the Chauk in the morning and the Haveli in the afternoon.
- There is no way to see the galleries just wandering around independently.
- Bags, cameras, cell phones are not allowed. No Photography is prohibited without prior permission.
The exhibits are at multiple levels and require some amount of climbing; but it is easy to do. It is not suitable for wheelchairs.
The Calico Museum contains is possible India's best maintained and best presented collection of traditional fabrics spanning over five centuries. It surely is a visual feast!