Re-use of a heritage building creates a truly modern museum
The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Bangalore is a premier art institution in India - the third and the youngest following the NGMA in Delhi and Mumbai. Located on the premises of the close to 100-year-old Manikyavelu mansion, NGMA Bangalore has come to be an important cultural hub of the city through its art exhibitions, outreach programmes, talks and cultural events.
The two-storey building has a red-tiled sloped roof and decorative plasterwork along column heads, roof lines and windows which houses a permanent art collection which is displayed against refinished, lime plastered, white walls. The expansion of 62000 sq ft on a site of 3.5 acres led to the addition of more art galleries and an art store outdoor cafeteria.
The gallery shows an interaction between the climate and landscape: natural daylight streams in and ventilation is ample owing to the clerestory windows. This light and ventilation are modelled to reduce energy consumption.
Drawing a parallel to this, the additions to the mansion are part of a constant seamless movement pattern between the art galleries. None of the trees on the site were cut; the vegetation is a prized possession of the gallery with nature walks conducted throughout the year. With edge skylights illuminating the halls, the neutrality of material, detail, colour and the unassuming plan allow visitors to be immersed in the stories of art that the spaces narrate. The design of the space determines its role as a museum, and thus is by itself, an act of curation.