Recently, the Mahindra Group launched the ‘The Museum of Living History', which celebrates the company’s philosophy, core values, and culture, incorporating elements of digital and futuristic art. Installations, interactive displays, ‘hype-boxes’, ‘suitcase’ collections, and memorabilia from the company’s past have been designed to tell the group’s story — its journey from when it was started in 1945 till today. The Mumbai-based museum, which anyone can visit by appointment, has been designed as a “new-world, contemporary space” that has both digital and physical art installations. As one enters, one feels like one has entered a spaceship with a laser beam of light welcoming visitors to “experience the present and walk into the future.”
Digital art has grown over the years as technology has progressed. Whether computer, multi-media or new media, digital artists combine creativity with technological innovations and software to produce VR and AR experiences. Video images, digital photography, digital paintings, 3D sculptures and fractal or algorithmic art are some examples of digital art today.
“AI is certainly useful to explore new ways of seeing art and to experience the art in a creative, interesting way since AI is intuitive. We have had people lining up in serpentine queues to see some of our cutting-edge digital/immersive installations over the last few years. The future of digital art can even expand to include an olfactory experience where one is looking at a historic artwork online and not just in a museum physically. It is a very exciting time for digital art,” explained Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, Managing Trustee and Director, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
Conceptualised by design and creative consultant Elsie Nanji, and ‘experience designer’ Harsh Manrao, Director, Figments Experience Lab, the Mahindra Museum makes references to how India’s growth and Mahindra’s history are closely linked, as the two grew and evolved together.
“Just as life is not static, this Museum is a living, breathing entity in the ever-changing world of the Mahindra Group. It celebrates the philosophy, DNA, core values and culture of the Group and is a cornucopia of stories that define us. I’m excited to see it evolve with time and tell a brand story like never before. This participative museum-in-motion emulates life in a sense,” said Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group.
Modern and contemporary artists such as Jaideep Mehrotra, Shahrukh Irani, Alijan Shaikh, Sara Lovari and others have also contributed to the Worli-based design project, which is akin to a public interface and outreach project by the group. “The space was carefully planned to cocoon the viewer like a warm embrace, and create the perfect ambience to absorb the message and details of the artworks. The idea of curating stories for the last 75 years of the Mahindra Group and converting selected stories into a creative brief which would inspire the artists involved was a challenging task. Never before has such a large organization or brand told its story in such a unique way,” said Elsi Nanji.
Adding further, Harsh Manrao said, “The museum has a pluralistic narrative and celebrates the group’s success stories. Each section presents an evocative and aesthetic blend of history, design, art and technology. The ‘phygital’ installations have been curated to add depth to the stories and can be updated continually. The museum is a timeless piece of experience-centred design.”
The five sections of the museum namely The Force, The Big Bang, Passage of Time, Hyperspace, and Beyond Space and Time offer an immersive, ultra-modern experience.
Alijan Shaikh’s chalk figurine carvings, Natasha Jeyasingh’s ‘Alternate Thinking’ – a woodwork piece, and Jaideep Mehrotra’s kinetic sculpture tell the group’s story — whether that be about overcoming challenges or having more diversity in the workforce.
Visiting a museum is an unexplainable experience. And, technology is only making it better. “Going to a museum and viewing art is an experience. Museums have been using digital technologies to make their exhibits more accessible. The use of technology has helped us understand exhibits better and thus narrate different stories. One can even understand the kinds of
pigments and materials used in an art object for better preservation of art through technology such as XRF. AR and VR are used to make exhibits more understandable, to explain more than what a traditional label can narrate. Experiential displays are created using sound effects like a breeze or waves to enhance the experience of the works on display, corresponding to the kind of work it is. Museums across the world are collaborating with each other and with tech companies and institutes to make better use of technology to enhance visitor experiences and to help them better connect with art,” shared Assistant Curator (Non-Indian Antiquities), CSMVS, Divya Pawathinal.