One of the world's most visited museum to house Sikh heritage gallery
After 9/11 the whole NRI Sikh community got together and they thought a better idea
would be to create a whole Sikh gallery


WASHINGTON, May 5 2004

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, one of the world's most visited museum complexes in the world, is slated to open here on July 24 a Sikh gallery to preserve and celebrate the rich Sikh heritage."

"The collection will include oil paintings, miniature art, rare books and lithographs, and a metal shrine that holds the Granth Sahib Sikhism’s holy book The exhibits will delve on themes such as the Sikh Gurus, the royal courts of Punjab, royal jewelry, the British perspective en Punjab, and contemporary Sikh art."

"Among the proposed displays are a gouache painting of the 10 Sikh Gurus, the emerald-and-gold seal ring of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a portrait of his wife Rani Jindan, and works by artists such as Arpana Caur and Sobha Singh. "

Fundraisers were held in Los Angeles, Detroit, Cleveland, San Francisco, and New York. Americans across the country enabled the project to exceed its fundraising goal of $750,000 with just over $1M in pledges and donations, according to a press release Tuesday.

"The cost of construction of the gallery and the initial presentation will come to around $850,000, according to Dr Paul M Taylor, director of the Asian Cultural History Program at the Smithsonian." Most of the exhibits will be on loan from the collection of Dr Narinder Kapany and Satinder Kapany.

"Taylor says it was the decision of the Sikh community as well as the museum that creation of a gallery should be a priority in their mission to propagate Sikh culture. “We are constructing the space and moving forward with planning the exhibition.” He says he sees the gallery as a window on Sikh heritage for the American people, including Sikh-Americans and their children. It will help a lot of people understand Sikhism, particularly after 9/11. 'We have a very central iconic museum for the American people,' he says."

"In addition to the fact that the exhibition will help a lot of people understand Sikhism, he says, he sees it as a 'flag ship of a fleet of related activities such as the conferences that we have been doing — lectures, films and so on.' According to Taylor, the gallery project is open-ended. The Smithsonian intends to set up an endowment to enable it to organize lectures and meet the cost of changing the exhibits and acquiring collections. The cost of continuing the programs will come to $2-$5 million 'to take this to a national level,' he points out."

"A generous donation has come from Rajinder Kaur Keith to uphold her sister’s memory and love for the arts. She and her sister, Narinder Keith - who passed away in November 2002 - were impressed by the great quality of work in the Smithsonian, says Monorama Kochar, a friend who is also a member of the Sikh Heritage Foundation. 'They have donated about half-a-million dollars towards different projects.' Keith’s $100,000 contribution is the largest donation to the Sikh Heritage Project by an individual."