19th Century NCA Archives Website on Maps – Journal
LAHORE: The National College of Arts (NCA) will soon launch a website of its archives, a repository of non-current college records from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, established in 1998.
The collections include many treasures from the past, including records of the Franco-British exhibition held in 1908, correspondence relating to Lord Curzon’s order for the brass lamps for the Taj Mahal in 1905, the conference paper of Bhai Ram Singh on Wood Carving for the Indian Industrial Conference of 1909. , government pamphlets and instructions circulated in connection with the First and Second World Wars and other similar archival material.
The collections contain both secondary and primary sources, including rare books and portfolios that were once part of the institution’s libraries, and early 20th-century primary sources including correspondence, accounts, and other documents related to the administration and development of the institution and artistic education in the region.
“NCA has invested in mobile shelving for its archives, which has significantly increased storage capacity and the ability to consolidate our archive storage into one dedicated space. This has significantly reduced document retrieval time and enabled the design of more effective environmental control solutions for the safeguarding of our collections,” said NCA Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Murtaza Jafri in a conversation. with Dawn.
According to Mr Jaffri, the collections tell the illustrious history of the institution, once an integral part of the colonial apparatus of the British Raj and now a pioneer of the contemporary Pakistani art scene. Archival evidence dates from the pre-1947 era, when the NCA was the Mayo School of Arts involved in the colonial politics and ideologies of the time, helping to advance the colonial project through its participation in imperial exhibitions and commissioned projects, but at the same time providing a space for local artists and artisans to develop and hone their skills and ideas, he adds.
The VC indicates that the main sources include documents related to the day-to-day running of the Mayo School of Arts, correspondence and articles on South Asian arts and crafts, reviews of exhibitions and commissioned projects, as well as communications received by the institution and its staff members as part of a wider network of colonial institutions of the British Raj. From 1958, archival documents indicate a more “modern” view of art and art education.
As of spring 2021, Mr. Jafri says the NCA has initiated a redevelopment of the NCA Archives, including a major overhaul of our storage facility and the comprehensive documentation and development of college policies and guidelines. There are plans to launch a dedicated website later this year, as well as a major publication documenting the history of the NCA.
“While improving the stewardship and preservation of our collection, this project also aims to make our resources more accessible to improve their use in research,” he adds.
According to Doa Sarmad Khan, Head of the NCA Archives Department, along with the physical development of the archives, most of the archive collection has been digitized in accordance with international data preservation and metadata standards.
“Digitizing our collections was key to keeping the archives open to researchers during Covid-19 by enabling digital access when physical access was impossible,” she adds.
Ms Khan says a major publication due later this year compiles a history of the NCA through a collection of thematic essays ranging from the institution’s earliest history to changing pedagogies, physical spaces and experiences in more contemporary times.
This publication will be based primarily on archival research conducted in the NCA archives and will provide a multifaceted account of the role of the NCA in the development of the arts in the country.
Posted in Dawn, August 7, 2022