Michelle to walk through 5,000 years of culture at crafts museum

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 07, 2010 15:50 hrs

New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) The National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum, home to more than 20,000 exhibits and a village complex showcasing ethnic and regional crafts and textiles, is all set to host US First Lady Michelle Obama Monday morning.

It is part of her familiarisation trip through 5,000 years of Indian culture, crafts and civilisation -- providing her with an opportunity to sample Indian goods and even indulge in a bit of shopping.

'We are looking forward to Michelle Obama's visit. She will arrive at 10.55 a.m. Monday morning. The museum has been taken over by security forces. It will be sanitised by 8 p.m. when the cleaners and staff will have to leave the premises to make way for security personnel accompanying the first lady,' an official of the crafts museum told IANS.

Michelle Obama will be guided through the gallery spaces and a special exposition of select crafts by the director of the museum. The crafts spread for the first lady includes cane and bamboo ware from Assam, pata chitra -- the traditional art from Bengal, zari work from Delhi and madhubani art from Bihar.

The first lady will enter the museum, adjoining Pragati Maidan, through its main entrance near the ancient Bhairon Nath Temple -- known to date back to the time of Mahabharata.

'We will mount a special display of Indian art history. Throughout the day, we were busy laying out the gallery,' the official said.

The museum has conceived a cultural showcase for the first lady that will include a Baul soiree from West Bengal.

Besides, the first lady might also be shown a eight-minute documentary.

According to Ruchira Ghosh, director of the museum, 'the visit will boost the museum's image'.

The museum serves as a confluence of arts, crafts and culture. The highlight of the museum is an ethnic village complex spread across five acres. It has 15 structures - mostly homes and temples from the states of India showcasing ethnic lifestyles. The complex has been designed by architect Charles Correa.

The repository has nearly 20,000 exhibits of heritage and cultural value.

The galleries, closed on Mondays, will make an exception to host the US first lady this Monday. The gallery spaces include the tribal and rural craft gallery, gallery of courtly crafts, textile gallery and gallery of popular culture, among others.

Some of museum's prized collections include the Bhoota art collection from Karnataka, rare 300-year-old 'dushalas (shawls)' from Kashmir, handkerchiefs, known for their unique embroidery, from Chamba in Himachal Pradesh, rare brocade and Baluchari saris from West Bengal and embroidery from Kutch.