Ray’s relationship with the Victoria Memorial Hall is now a full circle. The Associate Professor of Arts and Music History at the College of Arts and Sciences has been awarded the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Collaborative Research Award for planning and conducting a workshop at the VHHH and Virtual Symposium. Aim to relieve the impact of Indian, British and American heritage on VMH.
One of the 13 grants awarded this year in the collaborative research category, the award allows Ray and a team of 15 American, British and Indian researchers to explore the Indian, British and American VMH royal histories. Explore how the VMH collections and gardens made the knowledge and collection of the emperor’s networks of knowledge and collection, and how the Victoria Memorial Hall architecture and gardens created new imperial identity spaces for Indians and Europeans in Calcutta. One of the main goals is to re-center the history of Indian art, collecting, engineering, flora and horticulture in the history of VMH, and to examine how those stories were arranged in a royal institution known in Britain and the United States. .
The project was first conceived in During her 2018 trip to Kolkata, she was accompanied by Talitha Guha-Takurta, a renowned Kolkata-based Indian art historian in Calcutta, and Yayanta Senguptta, author, VMH Superintendent and Director. The three discussed how to re-evaluate VMH in the 2021s, and finally decided to structure the overall project for VHH in India and North America.
“This pioneering project brings together a multidisciplinary team of artists and architects, literary scholars, supervisors, cultural historians, horticulturalists, anthropologists, and environmental historians,” says Ray. Scholars include Yale University, Brown University, Santa Barbara University of California, University of London College, Warwick University, Royal Historical Palace, Sussex University, Center for Social Sciences, National University Singapore / Daxon Foundation, Delhi University, Visva Barati University and VMH. Ray is the project director and is working with a leadership team, including Tim Barringer, Yale Art Professor Paul Melon and Senguptan. During their workshop, the research team will work with local scholars in Kolkata.
Their research will be further explored at the online symposium, where they will join other leading scholars on VMH alongside this leading group of scholars. The team publishes their research in the mythology of scholarly essays.
The workshop is scheduled for January 2022 at the Virtual Symposium in September 2022. The South Asian Center and the Department of Art and Music History are co-sponsoring the project. This is Ray’s fourth NEH award.