The Enduring Image


This specially conceived exhibition is a part of the United Kingdom's contribution to the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of India's independence. It was planned by The British Council as a fitting tribute, both to the occasion and to the continuing friendship between the two countries. The aim was to design a global exhibition for India. 332 priceless artifacts were handpicked from the unparalleled collections of the British Museum to provide a panoramic view of all the world's great cultures to audiences in two venues, Delhi and Mumbai. This website contains a selection of images from the exhibition.

The project was perceived as an important Indo-British collaboration.

The formal agreement to stage the exhibition in India was signed on 4 September 1997 by the Secretary, Department of Culture, Government of India and The British High Commissioner.The Heads of State of the two countries are Joint Patrons of The Enduring Image. The exhibition has been presented in collaboration with the Department of Culture, Ministry of Human Resource Development, the National Museum, Delhi and the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai.

HM Queen Elizabeth II and His Excellency the President of India Mr. K.R. Narayanan opened the exhibition in Delhi.

The exhibition was jointly inaugurated at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai by The British High Commissioner in India, The Hon. Sir David Gore- Booth, and Dr. R.R.V. Ayyar, Secretary, Department of Culture, Government of India.

The Enduring Image consists of the widest selection of British Museum objects ever assembled for exhibition overseas. It is the largest ever such exhibition to be displayed in India. The Enduring Image is the largest project of this nature ever handled by The British Council anywhere in the world and the first ever collaboration of the Council with the British Museum.

The theme of the exhibition suggested itself as a response in appreciation of an earlier exhibition entitled 'In the Image of Man' , presented as part of the Festival of India in the UK in 1982.

The portrayal of the human form throughout world history is the central theme of the exhibition, which features jewellery, sculpture, plaques, seals, vessels, coins and armour, rendered in gold, ivory, bronze, stone and cloth from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia , Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe, Africa, South Asia, China and Japan and the Pacific.

An exciting aspect of the project has been the design of the display by the top UK designer Ivor Heal, making optimal and aesthetic use of space on one floor in Delhi and on five floors in a circular building in Mumbai. The state-of-the-art display in custom made showcases, professionally lit and climatically controlled, has put a contemporary stamp on this exhibition of ancient objects.

The fully illustrated catalogue of the exhibition which has been designed in the UK and printed in India is perhaps the most outstanding catalogue ever produced by the British Council.

An enormous amount of multi-media publicity, about 100 reports in the press as well as TV and radio coverage and the website has helped to generate wide awareness of the exhibition. It is estimated that about 200,000 visitors will see the exhibition at both venues.

The exhibition is being supported by a programme of school visits to the exhibition as well as other educational and multi-cultural activities, lectures, craft demonstrations, workshops and seminars to appeal to diverse interests and age groups. Admission to the exhibition is free and guides have been specially trained to show visitors around.

To stage the exhibition in India has cost around one million pounds, half of which has been provided by the British Council and half by commercial sponsors.

The artifacts have been flown to India by Air India and Air India Cargo in three consignments totalling 33 tonnes in freight. The project team from London involved in The Enduring Image was flown to India by British Airways. Oberoi Hotels offered free room nights and The Times of India have supported the exhibition through publicity. Other Indian and British companies that collaborated in the project with their sponsorship are ICI India, GEC, Barclays Capital, Bajaj Auto, HDFC and Tata Steel.



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