SALEM, Mass.––A $500 thousand gift by two philanthropic organizations in the Indian-American community of Massachusetts has enabled the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) to almost triple its existing gallery space for traditional art of India. The expanded gallery, newly named the Prashant H. Fadia Foundation and Deshpande Foundation Gallery, is one of the first South Asian galleries in an American art museum named by members of the Indian-American community. It will focus on the museum’s traditional Indian art collection, including portraits, rare embroideries, and South Indian devotional images.

The new gallery, located on the second level of the museum, opens July 15, 2006 with the exhibition, Of Gods and Mortals, Traditional Art from India.

“We are delighted to create and name new galleries dedicated to traditional Indian art as a result of extremely generous support from the Prashant H. Fadia Foundation and the Deshpande Foundation. Through their support, the Peabody Essex Museum now provides a unique opportunity for the public to see and enjoy a broad spectrum of traditional art of India. Combined with the museum’s contemporary and modern Indian art gallery, the new galleries also enable the public to view an unrivaled presentation of Indian art from colonial times to the present. We are deeply indebted to Desh and Jaishree Deshpande and their family and to Prashant and Saloni Fadia. We are also pleased that these new galleries serve as a testament and remembrance of Prashant Fadia,” says Dan Monroe, executive director and CEO of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Prashant H. Fadia, was an active, enthusiastic contributor to PEM for many years, serving as a member of the Board of Overseers, the Corporate Outreach Committee and the Asian Art Visiting Committee.

“We are very pleased to be establishing this important new gallery for Indian art in the Boston area. By forging partnerships in the South Asian community and with distinguished cultural institutions such as the Peabody Essex Museum, we achieve a common goal of raising awareness of the richness and beauty of Indian art. This gallery was one of Prashant’s cherished commitments to the community, and I am deeply gratified to see it fulfilled,” says Saloni P. Fadia, CEO of Abacus Software Group, Inc., the pioneering technology company founded by her late husband.

“Jaishree and I are delighted that the Peabody Essex Museum has a passionate and genuine interest in the art of India. We feel honored to be a part of their effort,” says Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, the visionary technology entrepreneur and founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks Inc. Deshpande and his wife are widely respected for their generous contributions and donations for various social causes through the Deshpande Foundation.

“This gift is such a significant step,” adds Peabody Essex Museum Curator of South Asian and Korean art, Susan Bean. “By supporting the Peabody Essex Museum, members of the Indian community are establishing their place among many cultural heritages in the United States and extending their reach of Indian culture in this country. This gift serves as an important role model for cultural philanthropy.”

Of Gods and Mortals, Traditional Art from India, the exhibition inaugurating the Prashant-Deshpande gallery, includes more than 50 works of art­­––paintings, sculpture, jewelry, furniture, and textiles dating from the 1800s to the present that illuminate the central role of visual arts in Indian life and culture. The exhibition is ongoing.

The Prashant H. Fadia Foundation was established in 1998 in Burlington, Mass. with a focus on art, technology, health, and the environment. The foundation supported two major publications at the Peabody Essex Museum: “Yankee India: Commercial and Cultural Encounters with India in the Age of Sail,” written by Susan Bean, PEM curator of South Asian and Korean art, and “Furniture from British India and Ceylon: A Catalogue of the Collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum,” by Dr. Amin Jaffer with contributions from Karina Corrigan, PEM’s associate curator of Asian export art. It has provided funding for research in neuroscience; supported a number of charities in India, including an orphanage in Orissa, and created an art gallery in India built with recycled, environmentally-friendly materials. This past year, the Prashant H. Foundation joined forces with TiE-Boston (The Indus Entrepreneurs, Inc.), a not-for-profit network of professionals dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurship, to provide long term funding for a Young Entrepreneur Award for children.

The Deshpande Foundation, the family foundation of Desh & Jaishree Deshpande, is focused on innovation in social development, providing grants to non-profit and non-governmental organizations in the United States and India that empower people to participate in the global economy. It uses innovation as means of creating opportunities and solving problems, and improving the quality of life in Northern Karnataka, with a specific emphasis on the Hubli-Dharwad region. The Foundation has provided a major grant in the United States to MIT for the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation and provided grants in India to the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras, the Akshaya Patra Foundation, and to a host of NGO's based in Karnataka working in education, environment and health.

Indian Art at PEM

The Peabody Essex Museum is a pioneer in collecting and presenting Indian Art. The museum began acquiring Indian art shortly after its founding in 1799. Today, the PEM’s collection of over 1.8 million works includes more than 4,500 objects from India––from the 18th through the 20th centuries, including paintings and drawings; works in clay, wood, and metal; embroideries; furniture; and a large collection of 19th- century photographs. The collection also contains important documents recounting 18th- and 19th-century voyages to India.


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