From funky street art to galleries housing priceless pieces, here’s where you can check out the visual arts in Mumbai
The city of Mumbai is known for its fast pace and no-nonsense attitude. After all, one would expect no less of the ‘financial capital’ of the country. But alongside the ability for straight-talk, Mumbai’s also got a thriving art-scene. Check out the colourful graffiti lining the streets, attend a talk by an art historian, or walk into a museum where you’ll be blown away by the works of 19th century Maharashtrian artists like Dhurandhar or global greats like Picasso. Don’t know where to begin? Follow our guide:
Kala Ghoda and Jehangir Art Gallery
The hip, creative enclave of Kala Ghoda is where you must begin your art tour of Mumbai. Walk the streets en route to Jehangir Art Gallery and you’ll find artists displaying their work, right on the walkway. See Ganesha caught in a variety of poses and colours; check out abstract designs that make your imagination run wild; invest in intricate paintings on dried peepal leaves and more. You can even strike up a conversation with the artist-vendors, or watch them work the brush even as customers try to strike a deal.
The Jehangir Art Gallery is one of Mumbai’s oldest art institutions. Established in 1952, this sprawling space has hosted many well-known artists including M F Hussain and S H Raza. You can spend an afternoon flitting from one exhibition hall to another. From photography exhibitions, to sculpture shows, ceramic exhibits, print-making workshops to displays of indigenous Indian arts, Jehangir Art Gallery has seen it all.
Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
A restored heritage structure, the museum building itself is a work of art. It showcases fantastic Corinthian columns, ornate staircases and twinkling chandeliers. The museum contains over 3,500 objects that offer you a glimpse of Mumbai’s past. See black-and-white images of Mumbai from centuries gone by or gawk at the map of Mumbai or marvel at (or deride) how much the city has expanded into the sea. Attend a workshop where you could try your hand at pottery, make your own kite, or learn about palm leaf engraving. Give yourself the better part of a day to explore this treasure that sits in the heart of Mumbai.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum, this museum was designed by the same architect who gave us the Gateway of India: George Wittet. The heritage structure showcases opulent Indo-Saracenic architecture complete with arches and domes.
Enter the building for a crash-course on India’s rich art history. Check out displays of pots and pitchers that date back to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, see intricate lattice-screens fashioned in the Mughal era, and more. See how Indian art influenced the colonisers and vice-versa.
Bandra street art
Spanning the landscape of Mumbai, you’ll find street art everywhere. Opposite Shivaji Park, you’ll find graffiti that spreads a host of messages, from ‘save water’ to ‘pray for peace’. In the bylanes of Kala Ghoda, you’ll find works of art gracing buildings and calling you into the galleries within; look up at the comic characters, interspersed with sketches of spatulas and more that grace the facade of the Artisans Art Gallery and Shop.
You can’t miss the larger-than-life mural of Mahatma Gandhi at Churchgate Station. Then, hop on a train and head to the suburb of Bandra. Walk Chapel Road, Bandra and you’ll chance upon some funky street art: brush-strokes that capture Bollywood stars alongside a street-cat, or a fisherwoman and more. The art changes often and no two visits are guaranteed to be the same. Here you can find art that depicts the life of Bollywood acts including Amitabh Bachchan from Deewar and even a still from Mughal-e-Azam. These walls showcase how Mumbai is literally star-studded in each and every sense.
National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA)
A premier art institution, this gallery came about to give a boost to modern art in India. It started out in the capital city of Delhi, and today NGMA has branches in Mumbai and Bengaluru. In Mumbai, the gallery sits within yet another heritage building. Step inside and you’ll find the works of MF Hussain, Raja Ravi Verma and even Picasso. Apart from showcasing the visual arts, the sprawling gallery also hosts a variety of events ranging from literature fests, to sustainable architecture and more.