Join us for the next session of our IOTA II Research Seminar Series – Free and open to all. More information, and the full series schedule can be found here


2.15pm – 3.30pm, Friday 17 January
Grand Parade, M2, City Campus


Akash Bharadwaj, Shiv Nadar University

“A New Museum for Bihar: The Predicament of Loss and Revival”

Museums in South Asia exist on various scales and cater to diverse regional and social aspirations, national imaginaries and ambitions of a cosmopolitan world. They also include the varied arrangement of resources, capital flows and projections of power. In this paper titled A New Museum for Bihar: The Predicament of Loss and Revival, I build and expand on the existing scholarship on museums in South Asia by linking the histories of the newly established Bihar Museum with the place-making and identity of the region.

The existing scholarship on Bihar historicises the region within a neat administrative boundary and creates it as a site of nationalist identity. This paper complicates the current understanding by stressing the revival of regional identity. It links the revival of regional identity to the formation of a new state-of-the-art Bihar Museum in the capital city of Patna, whose vision is to be a “world-class showcase for the ancient history and heritage of the land.” The paper further explores and interrogates the processes involved in planning of the museum. It analyses the curatorial design and protocols employed in the arrangement and display of its collections to understand how this “world-class showcase” configures regional space and identity of Bihar.

Akash Bharadwaj is a doctoral candidate in the department of history and archaeology at Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida, India. His doctoral thesis Collections, Museums, Heritage: Bihar and its Identities explores and examines the collecting and curatorial practices that underpin histories of museum-making to understand how they configure the region of Bihar and its identities.