Treasures of a Desert Kingdom exhibit comes to ROM

On March 9, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) unveils an exhibition of rarely seen royal treasures from Marwar-Jodhpur, one of the largest former princely states in India. The ROM will be the final North American destination and the exclusive Canadian venue for Treasures of a Desert Kingdom: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India. This exhibition, organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, with the collaboration of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, India, will be on display from March 9 to September 2, 2019.

“As a leading centre for scholarship and expertise in South Asian art and culture, we are delighted to give visitors the unprecedented opportunity to explore a part of India’s rich cultural history that has rarely been seen,” says Josh Basseches, ROM Director & CEO. “This landmark exhibition will not only captivate audiences, it will also offer a deeper understanding of India’s artistic heritage and its continuing influence today.”

On view in Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall, Treasures of a Desert Kingdom: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India explores a number of thought-provoking themes, including the cross-pollination of new ideas through art and culture; the strong role of women in the royal court; the importance of royal patronage; and the power of art as a tool of diplomacy. The exhibition features nearly 250 artworks and objects from the former kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur, located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. Lavishly made ceremonial objects, opulent jewellery, rich textiles and tapestries, luxurious palace furnishings, architectural treasures, and a monumental 17th-century court tent showcase the fascinating history of Marwar-Jodhpur and the Rathore dynasty that ruled the region for more than 700 years. Drawn primarily from the collections of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and the private collections of the royal family of Jodhpur, the exhibition marks the first time that most of these treasures have been seen beyond the palace walls.

Dr. Deepali Dewan, the exhibition’s coordinating curator and ROM’s Dan Mishra Curator of South Asian Art & Culture says: “This exhibition tells the story of a dynamic, cosmopolitan, and influential kingdom that saw art and culture as a critical aspect of rule. Jodhpur flourished, despite the odds of being in the middle of a desert, because its rulers made strategic alliances and allowed for a diverse culture. These are lessons still relevant today.”

The exhibition will transport visitors to the dazzling landscape of Jodhpur through engaging and interactive experiences. Visitors will be able to glide on a swing while viewing projections of a monsoon sky; look up at the intricate details of an embroidered canopy; and play an ancient Indian board game that royals used to hone their strategy. Augmented reality will bring the oldest surviving Mughal tent to life and showcase historical scenes featuring figures of the royal court from ruler to attendants.

“The ROM has once again secured a compelling visual and interactive experience with its new exhibition, Treasures of a Desert Kingdom,” said Michael Tibollo, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “The province’s tourism and culture sectors are made stronger with opportunities like this one that allow visitors to engage with different eras, cultures and customs.”