The Mohatta Palace Museum is a little known gem in the heart of one of Karachi’s old neighbourhoods, of particular interest for Pakistani expatriates living in the United Kingdom. It is widely known within the international art press, artists, art critics and auction houses, where it is often quoted in catalogues and magazines. Set within the confines of spacious manicured grounds, serves as an oasis in an otherwise bustling and over crowed city of 19 million. The building was built in 1927 for Shiv Rattan Mohatta, a Marwari merchant as a seaside holiday home. It was designed by Ahmed Hussein Agha, one of the first Muslim architects of India. The building itself is a fusion of various architectural styles; Agha worked in a Mughal revivalist style with a combination of yellow Gizri and pink Jodhpur stone, as he sought to recreate the Anglo – Mughal palaces of the Rajput princes.
This year the Museum celebrates twenty-one years of existence, serving the public as an institution which provides an insight into their regional and national identity Having held over 25 exhibition: some displaying paintings by Pakistan’s biggest names, some documenting significant periods in history and the impact of various civilisations, some displaying and archiving changing trajectories of the textile tradition in Pakistan and some showcasing the works of modern contemporary Pakistani artists. Many of the exhibitions at the Mohatta Palace Museum have achieved both national and international acclaim.
In 1999, the Mohatta Palace Museum, formally opened its doors to the of the people of Karachi, providing them with a public space and institution which would promote art, cultural traditions, history, relics of the regions past as well as the force of its contemporary artists. The building itself holds significance as at the time of Pakistan’s independence, it housed the Foreign Office when Karachi was the federal capital of Pakistan. Following the shift to Islamabad as the official capital in 1960s, the building was home to Quaid – e – Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s sister, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah where she continued to reside until her demise. The property remained sealed and in 1995, it was jointly purchased by the Federal Government and the Government of Sindh at the behest of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. In keeping with the tradition of creating more public spaces and institutions in Karachi, thus fostering awareness of the arts, culture and the tradition of the region, an autonomous board was formed to manage the Museum consisting of professionals, authors, bureaucrats, art enthusiasts, architects and archivists.
The Museum has held over twenty-five major exhibitions displaying artefacts in thematic displays culled from both public and private collections that have not been seen before. Some of the landmark exhibitions include Sadequain: The Holy Sinner, a retrospective on the works of the late, Jamil Naqsh: A Retrospective, The Treasures of the Talpurs, The Art of Gandhara, A Flower from Every Meadow, Threads in Time: Costume and Textiles of Pakistan, The Rising Tide, a critically acclaimed exhibition showcasing over 50 contemporary artists of Pakistan and The Labyrinth of Reflections: The Art of Rashid Rana, showcasing the internationally celebrated artist Rashid Rana amongst others.
The Museum’s Director, Nasreen Askari, has curated or co-curated almost all the exhibitions and has published catalogues on most of them which have become standard reference works of Pakistani art, culture, heritage, history and tradition.
The Museum is a trust and is supported by donations, from both corporations and individuals, who have supported of its exhibitions and other outreach endeavours for over two decades. The Museum is driven by an insatiable curiosity for the world, a deep belief in objects as reliable witnesses and documents of human history, sound research, as well as the need to expand and share knowledge.
For further information on the Museum, please contact Shanal Kazi at email@example.com
The Mohatta Palace Museum website is being re-vamped and will be functional by November, 2020. A simple way of supporting the Museum is by purchasing its publications, one can do so by finding the publications tab on its Instagram page @mohattapalacemuseum, the Museum is also on Facebook and Twitter with the same handle. All orders are to be made to the above mentioned email address, books are in inventory in the United Kingdom and can be posted at local delivery rates.