The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2016 > A British Museum Spotlight Tour: Celebrating Ganesha

A British Museum Spotlight Tour: Celebrating Ganesha

21 May - 18 September 2016

India is a land of gods and the Hinduism that originated in India is its most prominent religion. Among the many deities worshipped by the Hindus, Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, holds pride of place in the hearts of people.

The celebration of Ganesha takes place in the month of 
Bhadrapada (August - September) when thousands of clay statues and huge images of Ganesha are worshipped in households. The festival culminates with the immersion of Ganesha images and statues in lakes, rivers and the sea. The statues are accompanied by worshippers in a huge chanting procession.

The main object in this exhibition was a 13th century schist sculpture of Ganesha. 
At 119cm tall, this Ganesha depicts many of the major attributes of the popular Hindu god; this Ganesha is a corpulent figure and is shown holding a bowl of his favourite sweets whilst at the base of his lotus pedestal crouches his rat 'vahana' or vehicle. His anklets are of snakes, as is the sacred thread wound across his chest. The arch within which he stands is of a typical Indian decorative type with a lion mask ('kirttimukha') at the top, and aquatic monsters ('makaras') at each end.

The Ganesha sculpture was displayed alongside complimentary Gouache paintings and woodcut prints that depicted Ganesh in traditional scenes. Celebrating Ganesha toured seven venues across the UK and each museum highlighted connections with their own collections.

Click here to view the British Museum's online exhibition with Google Cultural Institute>

Related Events

Gilding the Elephant
3 June, 10.00 – 4.00, £35.00 Adults, £33.00 Friends of The Bowes Museum, inc morning refreshments

Join artist Linda Birch for an exciting day based on exquisitely decorated Indian miniature paintings. Create a work based on the Hindu elephant god Ganesh to celebrate the Museum’s current exhibition. Booking required here>

Elephant Dances
25 June, 2.30

Taking this as their inspiration, dance company Fertile Ground will perform the dance Elephant Dances at the Museum, investigating elephants, nature and dance in this evocative work. The company will also perform at the Witham Hall in Barnard Castle on 27 May, featuring three dances including Elephant Dances.

Ganesha Pots 
28 & 29 July, 10.30 - 12.00 or 1.30 - 3.00, £4.00 per child
Learn about Ganesha in this exhibition. Sketch in the gallery before trying to create a Ganesha pot using air hardening clay. Suitable for children aged 5+, who must be accompanied by an adult, for whom there is no charge for the event. Booking required on 01833 690606.

15, 16, 30 & 31 August, 10.30 - 4.00 

Mandalas are elaborate repeated patterns inside a circle and are created by Hindus as a form of worship. Use this drop in workshop to learn more about Hinduism before creating your own mandalas design. Suitable for children aged 5+, who must be accompanied by an adult, for whom normal admission applies.

Ganesha – Family Fun Day
23 August, 11.00 – 4.00
Come and join The Bowes Museum in this fun packed day of drop in fun for all the family. Activities include: 
1.    Make a Ganesha mask
2.    Create a rangoli pattern
3.    Design a mehndi hand pattern
4.    And much more!
Children must be accompanied by an adult, for whom normal admission applies.

British Museum curator to speak about 13th century sculpture
5 September, 2.15, Free with normal admission

Dr Imma Ramos, curator of South Asian collections at the British Museum, will explore the historical & cultural context of the 13th
century sculpture of Ganesha, on display as part of this exhibition. In particular, she will explore its fascinating journey from India to the British Museum via an East India Company officer named Charles Stuart.

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.