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First of its kind Meenakari Museum in the country

Jaipur Unveils the Museum of Meenakari Heritage: A Celebration of Enamelling Mastery

The Museum of Meenakari Heritage’ (MOMH) was recently inaugurated in Jaipur. The museum is a unique state-of-the-art permanent gallery that preserves and celebrates the rich tapestry of Meenakari. A long-nurtured dream of founder Sunita Shekhawat, this unique space is a manifestation of her vision and love for the art of enamelling. The museum is curated by the noted art historian Dr Usha R Balakrishnan and designed by Siddhartha Das Studio. The building design for the museum is done by Studio Lotus. It pays tribute to the mastery and skill of countless artisans who have carried forward the ancient craft of enamelling through the centuries.

Many eminent personalities, local as well as international, participated in the inauguration ceremony: art connoisseurs, international jewellery designers, editors of international media houses among others. These included Princess Gauravi Kumari of Jaipur; three-time Grammy Award winning Indian musician, Ricky Kej; Culturalist, Sundeep Bhutoria; Head of Editorial content, Vogue India, Rochelle Pinto; Actor and Director, Nandita Das; Global Editorial Director, CNT, Divia Thani; Jewellery Curator and Consultant, Former Managing Editor, Vogue, Archana Thani; Editor in Chief, Harper’s Bazaar India, Rasna Bhasin; Fashion Designer and Actor, Anaita Shroff.

On this occasion, founder, Sunita Shekhawat said, “This museum was my long-time dream, which has now come true. It is an expression of my vision and love for the art of Meenakari. This place is not just a museum but is like an experience centre, where people can see the rich art of Meenakari as well as get to learn about it. That is the reason we have kept it open for all the visitors. The special thing about this museum is that all the materials used are procured from Rajasthan only. This museum is dedicated to Jaipur’s art and artists.

Sprawled over 3,000 sq.ft, the gallery is located in the vicinity of Jaipur. Over 300 images were obtained from over 15 premier museums, private collections, art galleries and auction houses worldwide, charting the nuanced history of enamelling from Renaissance Europe to its arrival in India. These include the British Museum, V&A Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Al-Thani Collection, Aga Khan Museum, The Hermitage and Sotheby’s to name a few. The House of Shekhawat produced over 120 reproductions which serve as a priceless repository of archival motifs, styles and oral histories related to the craft. The myriad forms of enamelling like cloisonné, champlevé, plique-à-jour, and basse-taille are further explored in the 60 original pieces by Sunita Shekhawat. These creations epitomise a confluence of traditional craft and modern vibrancy the maison is known for.

A palette of ivory, maroon, and brown punctuated by teak wood, red sandstone and antique brass sets the tone of the space. Painstakingly hand painted ceilings and latticed jharokhas capture old world Jaipur. Locally sourced materials and heritage inspired design embody the spirit of Made in India. Bringing Jaipur to the world, the gallery lays bare an intimate bridge connecting the past, present and future of Meenakari. The gallery is an ensemble of pieces that shed light on various regions and epochs. This experience is only heightened by the artisan’s virtuosity that takes centre stage, highlighting the skill, patience and vision that goes into enamelling. Sunita Shekhawat is one of the last remaining jewellery houses that champion authentic Indian craftsmanship. Age-old techniques, once pioneered by Jaipur’s mediaeval elites and garnered global fame, continue to form the backbone of the atelier. Indeed, revival is at the heart of each piece.

The gallery preserves both the process and spirit of Meenakari. Acting as a node to disseminate knowledge about the craft, MOMH will continue to grow through organic collaborations and creative innovation.

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