6abc Loves the Arts: Philadelphia Museum of Art reopens South Asian Galleries

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After a major 2 year renovation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art just reopened one of its oldest collections, the first restoration of its South Asian Galleries in 40 years. (WPVI)

After a major 2 year renovation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art just reopened one of its oldest collections, the first restoration of its South Asian Galleries in 40 years.

Visitors will find a brand new layout, state-of-the-art lighting, flooring and casework for stored objects.

"We are entirely re-conceptualizing this collection," says Darielle Mason, the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Head of the Department of South Asian Art.

The reinstallation comprises of 10 galleries featuring art from the diverse cultures of South and Southeast Asia.

"You can turn the corner from Europe and then walk into Iran and have a look all the way through India into Tibet, into China and then down into Japan," says Mason, who adds that the collection includes ancient sculptures, artifacts, paintings, and textiles spanning over 2,000 years, "It is one of the great treasures of the city of Philadelphia."

The centerpiece is a replica of a 16th century South Indian Temple Hall.

"It's an incredible space," Mason says, "You will walk into an entire carved granite environment that actually is the front celebration hall of a temple that still stands in the far south of India."

An animation of an 18th century Indian manuscript is a new addition to the collection by Pakistani-American artist Shahzia Sikander.

"They're beautifully, you know, gold, bright-colored illustrations, and she's taken them and she's made them come to life," says Mason.

You can also view the entire collection online and Mason says the museum plans to continue adding new pieces, "We want visitors to not only appreciate the art, see its beauty, but also to begin to relate it to their own experience and to their own everyday life."

The South Asian Galleries are on permanent display. For tickets and museum hours go to www.TheArtsinPhilly.org.
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