Sri Lanka’s Very First Contemporary Art Museum Opens on 17th Floor of the City’s ‘Innovation Tower’

The institution opens with 'One Hundred Thousand Small Tales,' a group show originally commissioned for the 2018 Dhaka Art Summit.

Colombo, Sri Lanka. Photo by Anuradha Dullewe Wijeyeratne.

After three years of preparation, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka will open to the public in Colombo tomorrow. It is the first museum devoted to 20th and 21st century art in Sri Lanka. The museum will be temporarily located on the 17th floor of the ocean-facing Colombo Innovation Tower—a space that hosts much of the city’s creative community, including a cross-industry network of startups and design brands.

“While the museums of Sri Lanka have sought to serve the past, they have done so at the exclusion of our modern and contemporary histories,” explained Ajit Gunewardene, chair of the museum’s founding committee, according to ARTRA Magazine, a monthly Sri Lankan art magazine founded in 2012. “Sri Lanka’s rich historic culture underscores the way in which the island can lead the way in the region as a modern and contemporary museum destination.”

The new institution’s debut exhibition is “One Hundred Thousand Small Tales,” a group show, originally commissioned for the 2018 Dhaka Art Summit, that addresses art production in Sri Lanka from its independence in 1948 to the present. It will be on view for three months. No details have yet been released about further programming. Sharmin Pereira will serve as the museum’s chief curator.

“Following the international success of the exhibition in Dhaka, I am delighted to bring ‘One Hundred Thousand Small Tales’ to Sri Lanka, within the context of a much-awaited first for the country, as it steps out to establish a museum—on its own terms and its own journey,” said Pereira, according to ARTRA. “The opportunity to present the exhibition in Sri Lanka makes it not only possible to add to the list of artworks but most importantly to bring the work of over 45 modern and contemporary artists to audiences in Sri Lanka.”

Interest in contemporary art has grown in Sri Lanka over the past decade, and in Colombo in particular. The Colombo Art Biennale, which had its first edition in 2010, aims to strengthen the Sri Lankan contemporary art scene both locally and internationally. And Colomboscope, a festival inaugurated in 2013, showcases an interdisciplinary range of art forms.

The new museum hopes to support artists working both in Sri Lanka and abroad, and to build the nation’s first publicly accessible collection of modern and contemporary art.

 


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