National Gallery of Modern Art

The building that houses the National Gallery of Modern Art today used to be a popular public hall donated to Mumbai (then Bombay) by Sir Cowasji Jehangir, a leading Parsi philanthropist and industrialist. Named as Sir CJ Hall in honour of its founding patron, this building acted as an impressive auditorium back in its heyday, with horseshoe balconies overlooking the main stage. Right from concerts by musical stalwarts like Yehudi Menuhin and Paul Robeson to freedom rallies organised by Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammed Ali Jinnah to meetings for the Parsi Panchayat, this building has been witness to many significant moments in Indian history. It was designed by Scottish architect George Wittet (1878-1926). At that time the only other public hall in Mumbai (then Bombay) was the Town Hall and this new public hall soon became the hub of culture, frequented by the elite of the city. Over the years, the auditorium fell into disuse, especially after newer venues with air conditioning, better acoustics, lighting and other amenities cropped up in the vicinity. Soon the hall was only being booked for boxing matches, wedding receptions and leather goods sales. The artist community protested heavily against the deterioration of this building from a venue of high culture to one with a more bazaar-like vibe. After a concentrated effort from the art community, a 12 year renovation was undertaken that transformed the building into what we today call the National Gallery of Modern Art. It quickly went on to become an important centre in the contemporary art movement in India. Architect Romy Khosla was tasked with the restoration. Today, NGMA has five exhibition galleries, a lecture auditorium, a library, cafeteria, office and a vast storage space. This exhibition space regularly features many painting and sculpture displays along with works from artists from the international arena, both established and upcoming. 

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