Getty Foundation under The Paper Project funded the curation of maps, painted creations, and cartographic documents from the Mewar Royal collection, Tracing the past through the intricate lines of maps, ‘Picturing Place’ at The City Palace Museum reveals Udaipur’s hidden cartographic gems
In a world saturated with modern technology and GPS devices guiding us effortlessly from one destination to another, it’s easy to forget the significance that maps once held in shaping our understanding of the world. In a brilliant endeavor, ‘Picturing Place: Painted and Printed Maps at the Udaipur Court,’ a groundbreaking exhibition hosted by The City Palace Museum in Udaipur, India, takes us on a captivating journey through time, offering a rare glimpse into the cartographic treasures that were pivotal in shaping the history and identity of Udaipur.
Funded by The Getty Foundation under The Paper Project, this exhibition is a labor of love and dedication, painstakingly curated to bring together an array of maps, painted creations, and cartographic documents from the Mewar Royal collection, with origins dating back to the early 1700s. The meticulous preservation of these materials by the curatorial and research teams of The City Palace Museum is a testament to the commitment to safeguarding history for present and future generations.
Stepping into the exhibition, visitors are transported to an era when maps were more than just navigational tools; they were windows to the past, offering insights into the landscapes, architecture, and cultural nuances of a bygone era. The exhibited maps are not mere representations of geographical features but are artworks in their own right, crafted with care and attention to detail that reflect the values and aspirations of the time.
The Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF) played a pivotal role in making this exhibition a reality. Securing a grant from The Getty Foundation in 2021, MMCF paved the way for this extraordinary showcase of history’s artifacts. Dr. Shailka Mishra, the consultant curator for the project, aptly describes the maps as historical documents with immense archival value. They offer a holistic view of the past, complementing other court records and documents, and enriching our understanding of the cultural, political, and intellectual tapestry of the era.
The maps exhibited in ‘Picturing Place’ are more than just representations of physical spaces; they are windows into the mindset and perceptions of the past. The 53 objects on display, including paintings, maps, architectural drawings, photographs, and more, unveil the layers of Udaipur’s history. These artifacts are not only pieces of art but also repositories of knowledge that depict Udaipur’s evolution over time.
One cannot help but marvel at the symbiotic relationship between cartography and history. The maps exhibited at the Udaipur Court offer a glimpse into the aspirations, challenges, and achievements of the time. From early printed maps of India and world maps to local district maps created for revenue administration, each piece carries a story waiting to be unraveled.
The exhibition doesn’t merely showcase these artifacts; it immerses visitors in an interactive experience. Through guided tours and interactive kiosks, visitors can engage with the exhibits on a deeper level, connecting with the narratives and stories woven into each map. This exhibition serves as a bridge between the past and the present, reminding us of the enduring value of historical artifacts in fostering a deeper understanding of our roots.
Dr. Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, Trustee of Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, rightly acknowledges the importance of preserving living heritage and sharing it with a diverse audience, both nationally and globally. He commends the collaborative efforts of the museum and The Getty Foundation in creating a platform that celebrates authentic knowledge and heritage.
As we stand in awe of the ‘Picturing Place’ exhibition, it’s important to recognize the larger context it contributes to. The exhibition is not an isolated event but a continuation of The City Palace Museum’s engagement with the international community. In 2022-2023, the museum lent its invaluable collection to major international exhibitions, reinforcing the significance of preserving and sharing cultural heritage on a global stage.
Moreover, this collection of maps and documents isn’t just a reflection of Udaipur’s history but a testament to the human endeavor to understand, explore, and visualize the world around us. The maps serve as mirrors, reflecting the intellectual, artistic, and technological prowess of their time. They offer a glimpse into how societies perceived their place in the world, their relationships with neighboring regions, and their ambitions.
‘Picturing Place: Painted and Printed Maps at the Udaipur Court’ is more than an exhibition; it’s a portal to the past. It allows us to traverse centuries and immerse ourselves in the perspectives, challenges, and triumphs of those who came before us. The exhibition reiterates the timeless value of historical artifacts in bridging the gap between generations and shaping a holistic understanding of our shared heritage. As we marvel at the delicate strokes of ink on paper, we’re reminded that maps are not just tools to find our way; they are mirrors reflecting the rich tapestry of human history