Illuminating India is a celebration of India’s contribution to science, technology and mathematics throughout the world, staged to coincide with 70 years of Indian independence and the British Council’s UK–India Year of Culture 2017–18.
At its centre are two major exhibitions: 5000 Years of Science and Innovation and Photography 1857–2017. They present a kaleidoscopic history of scientific breakthroughs in India and a unique photographic survey of the country’s technological and cultural history that begins at the dawn of photography itself.
5000 Years of Science and Innovation
India has played a central role in the history of science and technology. As the Survey of India celebrates its 250th anniversary, we share stories of scientists, technologists and thinkers from the ancient past through the present day and uncover a remarkable chronicle of scientific thought and achievement.
Among the objects on display are the earliest standardised weights, which originated in the Indus Valley in 3000–2500 BCE, and a payload developed in 2017 for India’s flourishing space programme.
Alongside personal histories of visionaries including mathematical genius Srinvasa Ramanujan and the Indian Space Research Organisations’s Mounita Dutta as well as India’s ordinary citizens, these and many other fascinating exhibits demonstrate the profound effect that the people, geography and culture of India have had on global scientific advancement throughout the centuries.
This ambitious survey of the technological and cultural development of photography in India examines the role the medium has played in charting the country's modern history. It pivots around two key dates: 1857, the year of the Mutiny, and 1947, the year of Independence and Partition.
Photography arrived in India shortly after its invention in Britain in 1839 and became a tool of the British in their drive to document and dominate the people, architecture and landscapes of the subcontinent.
This exhibition spotlights the hitherto overlooked Indian photographers who worked alongside these foreigners from the 1850s onwards. Images by art photography pioneer Marahaja Ram Singh II and photojournalist Homai Vyarawalla are among exceptional loans drawn from international collections that create a sumptuous history of photography in India, from early salt prints to the latest digital imagery.
Part of an exciting series of events marking the UK–India Year of Culture 2017–18, which will celebrate the vibrant cultural history of the two countries.
- Self-portrait with dogs, c.1870 (2012.04.0025-0029) © Trustees, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, City Palace, Jaipur
- Mitch Epstein, Shravanabelagola, Karnataka, India, 1981, courtesy of Galerie Thomas Zander Köln
- Party Field, Janakpur, Nepal 2016c, from the series ‘A Myth of Two Souls’ (2013) © Vasantha Yogananthan