Air India will transfer its precious collection of over 4,000 artworks by well-known artists to the National Gallery of Modern Arts (NGMA) for public display.
In this regard, the airline and the NGMA inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday, January 18 in the presence of Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia. Kalpana Rao, the Corporate Secretary for Air India, and Temsunaro Jamir, the Director of NGMA, both signed the MoU. Senior representatives from the ministries of culture and aviation as well as Chief Executive Officer Campbell Wilson of Air India attended the occasion.
The NGMA, a famous organisation for modern and contemporary artworks, will now serve as the repository for the entire collection of Air India after this MoU was inked at an event here.
Legendary artists such as M F Hussain, Laxman Pai, V S Gaitonde, Sayed Haider Raza, Jatin Das, V Prabha, Shankar Palsikar, and Anjolie Ela Menon are among those whose works are featured in the airline’s cherished collections.
Air India gave away free tickets to budding artists over the first eight decades of its commercial operations, which began in 1932. These artists went on to become well-known figures in the art world.
These artists returned the favour by giving the airline their creations, including paintings, statues, and wooden sculptures, at various times, which over time grew to be a priceless collection.
Aviation Minister Scindia called it a historic occasion and noted that Air India has many firsts to its credit, including the first mail courier aircraft that J. R. D. Tata personally piloted from Karachi to Mumbai, the first international flight between Mumbai and London, and the first longest non-stop flight between New Delhi and New York.
“Air India also transported our culture. Many of the paintings that you will see in this collection are all a contribution in kind for the fare that was to be paid while flying by Air India. So, many of the artists contributed their art and passion which has now become a part of a wonderful historical collection.”–Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of Civil Aviation
Speaking of the diversity of the collections, he claimed that in addition to paintings and sculptures, even the menu cards used by Air India at the time were works of art.
“It is not the contemporary menu card that we receive when we board the aircraft today. They were large menu cards with artwork on their cover, beautifully engraved in the interiors.”–Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of Civil Aviation
Culture Minister Reddy expressed his gratitude to the Civil Aviation Minister and Air India for donating the collection and said that the NGMA has been working to safeguard and preserve the artwork since its founding in 1953.
“Whatever transfer is happening today, we will preserve them for our future generations. We will also display these artefacts.”–G Kishan Reddy, Union Culture Minister
Reddy added that the ministry, in addition to preserving them, will continue to cooperate with Air India to carry these priceless works of art to other places all over the world.