Published:  12:04 AM, 29 September 2018

Zainul Abedin Museum: A national asset

Zainul Abedin Museum: A national asset

Zainul Abedin Museum is an art museum, established in 1975 and situated on the banks of the old Bramaputra river in the city of his birth, Mymensingh, Bangladesh.

Abedin, a pioneer of the country's modern art movement, created works of art on subject matters such as the Bengal famine of 1943 and the peoples' independence.

Each year in December, the gallery authority organizes an anniversary program that includes a discussion on the life and work of Zainul, as well as a painting competition.

The collection at the museum includes fifty-three oil paintings, sixteen replicas, and seventy-five photographs detailing the life and works of this talented Bangladeshi artist, who is known by the honorary title of Shilpacharya, meaning "Great Teacher".

A further collection of more than 800 of Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin Sangrahashala's works are housed at the Bangladesh National Museum in Shahbag, Dhaka.

Born in Mymensingh, Abedin drew pictures sitting on the bank of Brahmaputra River. While studying at local Mrityunjay School, he won the first prize in a Bombay Chronicle art competition.

Subsequently, the school's headmaster sent more of Abedin's paintings to India. Devoted to his art, the school teachers encouraged him to go to Kolkata and, in 1933, Abedin was admitted to Calcutta Government Art School.

In the 1950s, Abedin began a movement of collecting neglected pieces of Bangladeshi arts works that were scattered all over rural areas of the country. The artist remained attached to his hometown, prompting the establishment of a museum in Mymensingh on 15 April 1975 in a building owned by Mr. Barden who later sold it to a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council.

The gallery opened with approximately 70 pieces of art that included oil paintings and drawings by Abedin during his tours abroad. The gallery was initially run by a committee that was assisted by a local administration.

There are currently 53 oil paintings in the archive. The collection includes various themes and subjects, though most depict scenes of rural Bengal. Besides the original paintings there are 16 replicas and 75 photographs on Zainul's life and works.

There are also 69 mementos on display such as brushes, brush holder, bottles of turpentine and linseed oil, carbon box, charcoal, wax, colour palette, colour tube, easel, ink pot, leather portrait holder, metal clip, reed pen, scraper, spatula and his spectacles. The mementos are situated in glass boxes in the midst of the gallery.

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