New Delhi: US First Lady Michelle Obama on Sunday got a taste of India’s rich cultural diversity when she visited the National Crafts Museum here and had a glimpse of the varied skills of artisans from across the country.
Attired in a green skirt and a black top, 46-year-old Michelle reached the museum soon after paying respects at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at the Rajghat.
She broke away from US President Barack Obama’s cavalcade as her husband went straight to Hyderabad House for a summit meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
According to museum officials, artisans had been enthusiastically preparing for the visit, picking their best works for display.
Soon after independence, various projects and schemes for preservation and development of handicrafts were envisaged in the first and second five-year plans. The establishment of a Crafts Museum was an integral part of this policy.
The core collection of the Crafts Museum was put together in the 1950s and 60s to serve as reference material for the craftsmen whose hereditary traditions were fading on the face of industrialisation.
The museum building for displaying India’s rural and tribal arts is designed by renowned architect Charles Correa as a metaphor for an Indian village street -- affable, accommodative and active.
A walk across the crafts museum building is through open and semi-open passages covered with sloping, tiled roofs and lined with old carved wooden jharokhas, doors, windows, utensils and storage jars and perforated iron screens.
The courtyards have domed pigeon houses adorned with arches and lattice work panels, terracotta shrines dedicated to basil plants and massive temple chariots.
The scales and proportions of the building are based on those of the traditional Indian village where objects of everyday life are hand-made and used.