City Museum Kathmandu celebrates Kathmandu by building upon what was once lost
A museum by definition
A fourth generation photographer by profession, Kashish Das Shrestha wanted to showcase all the photographs his grandfather once took. There were photos that needed rescuing and displaying for they had far more significance on the wall than in the boxes that neatly protected the pictures for fifty years of his grandfather’s career. That was how the idea of a museum germinated.
City Museum Kathmandu’s (CMK) sprawling space gives a definitive sense of the past. The old pictures of lanes that still exist in Kathmandu show the obvious urbanization this city has gone through. But how important are those pictures of the past? Walking on 12,000 old bricks that went into making the floor of the museum, one can enjoy the ‘galli’ with pictures on either side, of a city we so adore. The past doesn’t make you forget the present. It shows the base on which we stand. The idea of the museum is to show each one of us how far we’ve come in time.
A creative hub
CMK has chosen a different path from other galleries in the city. For one, it is in Durbar Marg, the heart of the city. Secondly, it works to promote art in innovative ways that are commendable.
Besides the booking charges, the artists do not have to pay a rental charge for the gallery. All exhibitions are discussed with the artist in great detail. Suggestions on events, production management, communication and advertising are all done under one roof. Other events, besides art exhibitions are customized according to the need but the core remains the same. All events directly or indirectly promote art. Even those events that are not related to art are organized to fund future events. The gallery has been organizing events and exhibitions since March this year.
The main objective of CMK is to let the artists remain artists during exhibitions. “In Nepal, even exhibiting one’s work involves a lot of hassles. An artist has to take care of logistics and communications. But through our gallery we make sure the process is easy,” shares Kashish Das Shrestha.
CMK gallery links art buyers and artists in an arena that is of international standards. It brings artists from around the world in touch with local people and inspires them to present their work. Along with that, there are ideas to make sure artists sustain in forms other than their work. Generating royalty through objects such as coasters or pencils with the artist’s work printed on them, which are on sale in the gallery, helps every person own a piece of art. Rather than an individual who buys the artist’s main work, objects like these make art more accessible to the people than ever before.
Unique works of art from wooden cabinets to jewelry are on display for art lovers to buy. All these items are beautiful and special because they are rare. Most works have stories attached to them which make them special, both to own or to give away as a gift.
An art coffee shop
On the ground floor of the building is the café. Named after the huge fig tree right in front of its window, the café provides freshly brewed organic coffee made in Nepal.
“It is the ultimate place people can sit down and discuss the museum or exhibition they just were a part of. It is like an art hub where people enjoy their coffee and company along with art,” shares Kashish.
CMK primarily wishes to promote art. This includes an exhibition of photos of the past that give us an insight into our roots. The gallery and café meet the contemporary needs of artists because it is impossible to build upon the proud past if we do nothing in the present. The gallery promotes work in every form, from three dimensional works to art house cinemas and documentaries. The after taste of CMK is something that has to be experienced by everyone. You are proud to be a part of such a rich city and at the same time immensely gratified that what we once had is not being lost but is being built upon.