Where Art Meets History: Discovering the Taragaon Museum

4, Jul 2023 | nepaltraveller.com

With its rich collection and engaging events, the Taragaon Museum stands as a testament to Nepal's thriving artistic heritage

The Taragaon Museum, located in Kathmandu's northern region near the Bouddhanath stupa, is an exquisite private art museum and library. Situated within the grounds of the Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, the museum is owned by the hotel and supported by The Saraf Foundation. Its collection is housed in three buildings, complemented by the Bodhisattva Gallery showcasing Newa art, the Pathivara Gallery exhibiting Thangka paintings, and a contemporary art gallery.

The museum's history traces back to the 1970s when an Austrian-style brick structure was initially constructed as a hostel for artists and scientists. Nepal had recently opened its doors to foreign visitors, and the hostel aimed to embrace the essence of "Nepaliness" for its guests. The land, initially acquired by His Majesty's Government in 1969, was later transferred to the Nepal Women's Association. In 1970, Angur Baba Joshi, a renowned Nepalese scholar, collaborated with Austrian architect Carl Pruscha, who had served as a UN and UNESCO consultant for Nepal. Joshi entrusted Pruscha with the design of the hostel, envisioning a cultural village for artists in Nepal. Construction commenced in 1974, and the entire complex was inaugurated on September 25, 1974, in the presence of Queen Aishwarya Rajya Lakshmi Devi Shah. The architectural style seamlessly blended Nepalese elements with Pruscha's European modernist touch.

However, following the abolition of the Nepal Women's Association in 1990, the hostel was abandoned in 1997. Eventually, the property came under the ownership of Arun Saraf, the proprietor of the neighboring Hyatt hotel. Under Saraf's stewardship, the abandoned hostel underwent extensive renovation and transformation into the captivating Taragaon Museum.

Spanning an impressive area of 35,000 square feet, the museum boasts a diverse range of exhibits within its permanent collection. Visitors can admire captivating 18th and 19th-century photographs, watercolors, engravings, artist sketches, maps, plans, drawings, and various other documentation. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum houses a contemporary art gallery, an event hall, and two outdoor amphitheaters, offering a dynamic and immersive experience to its visitors.

The Taragaon Museum also serves as a vibrant venue for various art-related events and festivals. From book release events to mesmerizing musical performances, the museum's campus pulsates with creativity and cultural celebrations. Notably, the museum proudly co-hosted the Kathmandu Triennale 2077, joining forces with esteemed institutions such as the Patan Museum, Bahadur Shah Baithak, Nepal Art Council, and Siddhartha Art Gallery.

With its rich collection and engaging events, the Taragaon Museum stands as a testament to Nepal's thriving artistic heritage. Nestled amidst the enchanting city of Kathmandu, this museum offers a captivating glimpse into Nepal's art, history, and cultural diversity. Whether exploring the intricacies of the permanent exhibits or immersing oneself in the lively atmosphere of art-related festivities, visitors are sure to be enchanted by the Taragaon Museum's captivating charm.

photo credit: Wikipedia, TripAdvisor

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