Eka is a museum management company
Pramod Kumar K.G., the founder and managing director of Eka, has no formal training in museology or the fine arts—but he has a lot of experience in managing arts-related affairs and museums. “I studied economics and business management at Mumbai university, and after graduation I worked with textile-buying agencies such as Karavan in Mumbai.” Eka also has a Mumbai-based director, Deepthi Sasidharan, who is a trained museologist and was a Fulbright scholar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Pramod says most private Indian collections are organized like bhandars (stores) or ajaib ghars (a house of curiosities). “Things are there but placed in a haphazard way. People come, gaze at them and there is no connect with these items,” he explains. “I had been discussing this with Deepthi for a while. She knew the subject as an expert and I understood the business and organizational aspects. It made sense to set up a museum management company.” They launched in 2009.
It was while working with textile-buying agencies that Pramod first got a project in Delhi to assist Rajeev Sethi, the chairman and founder trustee of the Asian Heritage Foundation, in setting up the Silk Route Exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC in 2002. “I was head of research for the project,” he says. He then got fully involved with the arts and moved to Jaipur in 2003. “I worked on setting up the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, and later directed the Jaipur Virasat Foundation and Jaipur Heritage International Festival with Faith Singh (founder of Anokhi) and instituted the Jaipur Literature Festival.” He met Sasidharan during his Anokhi project days.
Pramod moved back to Delhi in 2006 as a full-time employee (associate director) of the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts. His main task was to set up the foundation in India and get all the images and photographs owned by Alkazi, across the UK and US, to India to create a digital archive and catalogue the collection. In 2008, he got a chance to manage the archiving of the City Palace of Udaipur’s royal photography collection. He took up the project as an independent consultant.
Biggest asset: Pramod Kumar K.G. has an extensive library in his office. Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Today, Eka also offers advice on building museums from scratch; they are doing this now for the Udai Bilas Palace museum, Dungarpur. “We are advising them on setting up their own museum within the palace space in a way that these items can be preserved and showcased along with digital archives,” says Pramod.
The consultancy also acts as an agent to develop outreach programmes so collections can be showcased around the world. “We get professionals to work on these projects and also train a few locals to take over the project when Eka leaves,” says Pramod.
Now Eka has started work in West Asia too, especially Saudi Arabia. “Our clients there were fed up of having had to deal with European and American consultants over the years. They find it better to have their collections interpreted by people who have cultures similar to theirs,” says Pramod.
Some clients are not open to outreach plans. “Many do not understand the importance of creating digital archives and putting their collections online. We have to educate them on why it is necessary to let researchers have open access to their collections,” says Pramod.
“This is a niche business and I believe we are the only ones really running a consultancy like this in India. But yes we do have another plan, which is to set up a facility to train more people in museum management,” says the 37-year-old.
Only take on time-bound projects. “If you take projects that go on forever, you might make money but there is never a closure. That’s why I don’t like to take on government projects. They drag on endlessly. I would never have time to do other things.”