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July 29, 1999
Canadian Museum Gets $ 2 Million For South Asian Gallery
A P Kamath in Toronto
The South Asian community led by several Indian organizations and individuals has raised $ 1 million (Canadian) to facilitate a permanent gallery of South Asian Art at the Royal Ontario Museum.
The gift is matched by a $ 1 million donation by philanthropist, author and businessman Christopher Ondaatje after whom the gallery will be named. Among Ondaatje's books, Sindh Revisited traces his journey in the footsteps of Sir Richard Burton in the 19th century.
A formal function is being held at the Museum on July 22 to hand over the gift checks.
"Toronto has one of the most vibrant of South Asian communities anywhere in the world," says Hari Venkatacharya of the South Asian Advisory Committee. "And we have thousands of immigrants from Trinidad and Guyana who trace their ancestry to South Asia. They will be interested in knowing their heritage through art."
The donations will be used, mostly, to appoint a curator who will not only organize the existing art work from South Asia but also seek to acquire new work, hold exhibitions and seminars.
The museum expects a worldwide search for the curator be launched soon and the process of selection be completed in a year. The gallery is expected to open by 2004.
"SAAC seeks to nurture a greater appreciation for the vibrant, rich 5,000-year-old civilization of South Asia," Venkatacharya, who sells among other things, Indian children's tales to major bookshops, says,
"South Asians are proud of their cultures and want to ensure that their heritage is remembered and appreciated by Canadians for years to come."
"For the first time in Canada," he continues, "Various South Asian communities have come together to back the plan for the gallery."
The efforts began nearly five years ago, Venkatacharya adds.
Among the contributors are: Vishnu Mandir, Bhupatrai and Sarla Bhuta, Hindu Sabha, Hindu Temple Society, Canada-Pakistan Business Council, Inder and Pratap Sharma, Jain Community of Toronto, Lohana Community of Toronto, and South Asian Physicians Fund.
"With these generous gifts from SAAC and Ondaatje, we can move towards our long-standing goal of studying and displaying the richness of South Asian civilizations," says Dr Hans Sues, the vice president of Collection and Research at ROM.
This fall, the ROM will open three galleries including the Asian Sculpture Gallery which opens on October 23.
Situated next to the new Levy Gallery, this gallery displays objects from the ROM's Asian sculpture collection. The South Asian and East Asian Religious Sculpture exhibit which opens with this gallery presents religious stone sculpture, mainly Buddhist, of East Asia and South Asia dating, from the 2nd to 12th centuries AD.
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It can also be reached by taking Avenue Bus #5 south from the Eglinton Subway Station.
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