Arts, Culture & Heritage
With the objective to preserve India’s rich heritage of art and culture as well as enhance avenues for livelihood of traditional artisans and crafts persons, Reliance Foundation is constantly reimagining ways to protect and promote Indian Arts, Culture & Heritage. Reliance Foundation supports efforts to document cultural heritage and preserve it for posterity. Reliance Foundation is reimagining ways to protect and promote India’s priceless heritage to not only sustain but also make art and culture relevant to the younger generation. India is a land of diverse cultures and it is RF’s endeavour to ensure that the youth appreciates and connects with its rich heritage and arts. Aligned to its objective to protect and promote India’s arts, culture and heritage, Reliance Foundation undertakes various promotional and developmental projects and activities.
As a melting pot of cultures, and a cradle of great civilisations, India has a vast cultural heritage - spanning art, craft, music, dance and literature. It is an extraordinary legacy, thousands of years in the making. Reliance Foundation also gives Indian artists a platform of festivals and programmes to showcase their talent, and take their work to a wider audience. We are securing the future of endangered art forms by providing livelihood opportunities to traditional artists and craftsmen, to ensure their work continues to be viable
Reliance Foundation Founder – Chairperson Smt. Nita Ambani was elected to the Board of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2019, the first Indian to be honoured with the role of the trustee in the Museum’s 150-year-history.
We also support efforts to pass India's cultural legacy down to future generations. We are working to make Indian art and culture more relevant to young people, and to help them appreciate and connect with their extraordinary heritage. Some of Reliance Foundation’s initiatives in this area include
Preserving and Celebrating Indian Art, Culture and Heritage
Nasreen Mohamedi at The Met Breuer
One of the most significant artists to emerge in post-Independent India, Nasreen Mohamedi (1937–1990) created a body of work that demonstrates a singular and sustained engagement with abstraction. Her minimalist practice adds a rich layer to our understanding of minimalism in a transnational context and to the history of South Asian art and Indian modernism in particular.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) inaugurated its new space, The Met Breuer, with the retrospective of Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990) on March 1, 2016, Mohamedi’s paintings, drawings, photographs, and rarely-seen diaries have been brought together from collections around the world in order to trace the evolution of her aesthetic approach and shifts in artistic practice. With about 140 objects, the Met Breuer exhibition is the largest display of Mohamedi’s work in the United States till date.
Additionally, Reliance Foundation also provided a generous endowment to support exhibitions that explore and celebrate the arts of India to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago
The Pushtimarg is a religious community devoted to Lord Shrinathji, a divine image of the Hindu God Krishna as a seven-year-old child. Founded in the 16th century by the saint and philosopher Shri Vallabhacharya (1479–1531), the religious and artistic centre of this sect is based in the temple town of Nathdwara (literally, “The Gates of the Lord”), near Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan, India.
The exhibition, held at the AIC from September 13, 2015, to January 3, 2016, took visitors through a year in Nathdwara, where the daily worship of Shrinathji is characterised by the changing seasons and a bustling festival calendar. Gallery by gallery, visitors were introduced to Pichvais, wall hangings used as backdrops for Shrinathji in his shrine, each uniquely suited to a particular season or festival.
Reliance Foundation also commissioned Pattachitra paintings and Tarakasi artefacts from craftsmen in the cyclone-hit state of Odisha, to help these communities rebuild their lives. In 2016-17, Reliance Foundation commissioned the families of 100 Pichvai artists in Nathdwara, Rajasthan, to create 17,000 Pichvai paintings, one of the oldest living art forms in the world.
In 2013-14, Reliance Foundationpartnered with Samanvay Prathisthan, an institution working in the educational, social and cultural spheres. Reliance Foundation supported Samanvay in organising the Vasant Bal Mahotsav, a cultural festival in Mumbai. Over 50,000 students participated through music, dance and other cultural activities.
Besides these, in 2012-13, Reliance Foundation was the lead sponsor for the Elephanta Festival, held in March 2013. This festival, held annually at Elephanta Island, adjacent to Elephanta Caves, a World Heritage Site, commemorates the heritage of dance, art and sculpture in India. Thousands of people attended the festival.
'Mummy: The Inside Story' at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Reliance Foundation in partnership with BP brought to India the internationally acclaimed exhibition 'Mummy: The Inside Story'. This unique exhibition gave the viewers a look at the 3,000-year old coffin of an old priest, while explaining the mummification process and the life and history of Egypt through an immersive 3D film. The three-month exhibition increased the footfall of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya to over 261,200 visitors, of which over 60,000 were students from more than 400 schools.
Supporting India's heritage through musical concerts
Reliance Foundation has also supported various Indian music concerts, including ‘8 Prahar’ – an annual event dedicated to Indian classical music (last held in 2019); Ustad Zakir Hussain's concert 'Abbaji', dedicated to the memory of his father - the legendary maestro, Ustad Allah Rakha Khan; Carnatic Connect, an annual concert in tribute to the legendary mandolin maestro U Srinivas; the Spiritual Morning initiative which has seen performances from some of the biggest legends of Hindustani classical music and more. In addition, to promote and preserve the rich traditional Art of India, in July 2022, a unique event of Indian devotional music "Bolava Vittal' was organized in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Jaipur, which was sponsored by Reliance Foundation.
Reliance Foundation Drishti Art Competition: Annual Event
In order to increase awareness about the importance of eye donation and to encourage children for art, Reliance initiated the Drishti Art Competitions in 2004. The competitions are organised annually for children and grandchildren of all Reliance employees across all Reliance offices and locations.