Located in the heart of Lutyens' Delhi, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts plans to become a vibrant cultural hub.

Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) has never remained short on events. Cultural activities like festivals, bazaars, exhibitions often take place in its spacious premises but the beautiful white structure erected in the memory of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi way back in 1985, dedicated to the cause of art and traditions of our country, somehow remained uninviting to the general public. Now, several plans are on course to alter this.

Lying unutilised for years, a part of the building known as Central Vista Mess (C.V. Mess) is witnessing a major revamp. Construction of two new art galleries, conference room, a book lounge, auditorium, cafeteria, restaurant and a memorabilia store is under way, scheduled to be completed in March, 2010. The idea is to transform the centre into a lively vibrant cultural hub.

In fact, the recently held Braj Mahotsav — a thematic festival celebrating the different aspects of Braj Bhumi, or the Dastkar Nature Bazaar – was in accordance with the same thought process. “We are recycling the abundant space lying unused and closed. Being situated so strategically, we have decided to activate this space,” says Jyotindra Jain, Member Secretary, IGNCA, who took over from K.K. Chakravarty in April, 2009.

It's surprising to know that the 25-year-old institution spread across 25 acres, has been functioning without a proper gallery or an auditorium all these years. Till now, the amphitheatre and Maati Ghar were being used for performances and exhibitions.

“The two galleries are being built in conformation to the international standards. Since there are pillars within the space, we have come up with the idea of having mobile walls to display the work. We have gypsum walls — the most modern way of hanging a painting — in the gallery. The 170-seat auditorium will have lecture demonstrations or small performances,” informs Jain. Gypsum is a board, used as a finish for walls and ceilings across the world. The renovation project has been undertaken by Central Public Works Department.

Jain plans to invite 25-30 artistes from various disciplines to visit the space and devise new concepts and ideas to be presented there. The second floor in the new building is also in for some changes especially with the purpose of increasing the interaction and co-ordination between conservation and archives department.

“The archives was lying in closed rooms and thus remained inaccessible and even the guest houses in the new building were lying incomplete,” says Jain who is curating the show of images clicked by the 19th Century photographer Raja Deen Dayal to inaugurate the new space.

“We havemajor photographic collections of Sunil Janah, Ashwin Mehta and also a major historian and philosopher of Indian art, Anand K. Coomaraswamy which we recently acquired from his family. We plan to showcase them soon after the show on Raja Deen Dayal,” adds Jain.