E-Way to Arts

Osian's announces an extensive web archive and library for Indian arts and culture.

Neville Tuli, Chairman of Osian's, was visibly excited ó like one would be after the birth of a baby. At the launch of their new web library and archive ó www.theosianama.com ó in Delhi on Tuesday, he spoke about changing a civilisation by making its art and culture available to the public. "This is a 20-year-long journey that came out of a perennial thought in the mind: how do you make knowledge on art and culture available to the world?" he remarked.

And then, he didn't take long to provide a deconstructed answer. "India struggles with an inherent insecurity, one that comes with the awareness that history can be distorted. We have to make her heritage tangible, and available for the world," he said.

The archive will serve as a search engine-cum-library for nine classifications, which according to Tuli, constitute the entire gamut of artistic and cultural dimensions. "Unlike Wikipedia, which invites everybody to contribute, and Google, which only takes you to a world of information that they are unaware of, we know every inch of our website," he informed.

The worlds of antiquities, fine arts, books, cinema, craft, economic data and the events of art and culture, photography and printmaking collaborate to make the website. "It works like an excel sheet, allowing us to filter and contribute, and provides perfect data that can be used by anybody and everybody. This perfection is what the web lacks today," added Tuli.

The first of four phases of www.theosianama.com launches in March. The next three phases, which include more classifications, will unravel through the year. The demo for the first phase makes it look like a compartmentalised go-to for all kinds of cinema and art data. "India has to be the source of its own experiences and heritage," he explained. Tuli said that although he was apprehensive of digitising the artwork, may be the Internet is a trigger to reach a wider set of people. "For instance, when the first few postcards of the Mona Lisa came out, many people thought the painting would lose its charm. It, however, only spiked the curiosity among people. Hopefully, we can do the same," he cited.

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