Gift of Art to Museums
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Bhajju Shyam - Jalhaarin Mata
Acrylic on canvas, 77” x 47.5”


In 2022 and 2023, thirty-six paintings from the Gaur Collection of Indigenous Art were gifted to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The gift included works by seventeen well recognized artists from the Gond and Warli tribal areas as well as folk artists from the Mithila region.

In 1968, the Philadelphia Museum of Art mounted a large-scale exhibition entitled “Unknown India: Ritual Art in Tribe and Village”. It brought together almost five hundred objects, dated from 300 B.C. to the present from private and institutional collections from around the world. The exhibition was the brainchild of Dr. Stella Kramrisch, the museum’s legendary curator, who had taught in the Calcutta region from 1921 to 1950 and traveled throughout the Subcontinent to study and collect a large trove of indigenous art. She donated this material to the Philadelphia Museum of Art before her retirement in 1980s after a long tenure as the curator of Indian art

The Kramrisch collection is considered one of the best and the largest collection of its kind but mostly consists of objects created before the 1980s. In contrast, the Gaur Collection of Indigenous Art consists entirely of paintings which have been created in the last three decades. The Gaur Collection gift extends the iconic Kramrisch collection to the current times.

The Gaur Collection and the ritual art from the same communities collected by Kramrisch affords the Philadelphia Museum of Art the ability to highlight and explore this powerful realm of South Asia’s art in a way not possible in any other US institution. The Gaur collection gift will form the core of exhibition “Running Upward: Individuality and Indigeneity in India (working title)”, scheduled for 2026.