Then and Now: On Activating Sikh Visual and Material Culture at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA)


  • Laura Vigo Curator of Asian Art, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts



Sikh Art, Museum Studies, Contemporary Diasporic Art


A museum’s relevance must lie in its ability to inspire reflections on the works it contains, fostering and cherishing a plurality of interpretations. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has been exploring new avenues of interpretation, rejecting the idea of an exhaustive overview of the arts of the world’s various regions in the manner of the so-called universal museums of the nineteenth century. From the multitude of realities its art collections embody and the histories they index, nodes of encounter and entanglement emerge, the so-called space “in between,” from which new visions arise. Within this new epistemic framework, the museum recently welcomed The Kapany Collection of Sikh Art, a new gallery dedicated to historical and contemporary Sikh Art, part of a commitment to render the museum into a space receptive to the shifting plurality of voices that comprise our ever-changing Canadian society. The Kapany Collection presented a timely opportunity to re-think conventional museological approaches and offer new perspectives to Sikh art and art in general, incorporating Sikhi as a meaningful curatorial praxis and prompting contemporary diasporic artists to weave new histories from within.


Download data is not yet available.


Bakirathi, M (2010)., “Viewing South Asia, Seeing America: Gauri Gill’s “The Americans”” American Quarterly 62 (1): 135-150.

Basu, P. (2017), The In-Betweenness of Things, Bloomsbury.

B.N. Goswamy, (2006) I See No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion, Ocean Township, NJ: Rubin Museum of Art.

R. Dohman ed (2018), Empire and Art: British India, Manchester University Press.

Dhami S. and P.M. Taylor (2017)

Eden, Emily (1867). Up the Country. London: Richard Bentley: 200.

Edwards, S. (2018) “Photography in Colonial India” in R. Dohman ed, Empire and Art: British India, Manchester University Press: chapter 3.

Hodder, I. (2012) Entangled, An Archaeology of the Relationships between Human and Things, Wiley-Blackwell.

Lafont J.M.(2017), “Arts and Culture in the Punjab Kingdom and the Sikh States Trans-Sutlej and Cis-Sutlej” in Dhami S. and P.M. Taylor (2017): 163.

Murphy, A. (2012) , The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press.

Anne Murphy, (2015) “Sikh Museuming” in Sacred Objects in Secular Spaces: Exhibiting Asian Religions in Museums, edited by Bruce M. Sullivan, Bloomsbury.

Pinney, C. (2013) Gauri Gill’s The Americans, Chennai, Tara Books.

Singh, K. (2003). “Allegories of Good Kingship: Wall Paintings in the Qila Mubarak at Patiala”. In K. Singh (ed.), New Insights into Sikh Art. Mumbai: Marg Publications. 2003: 68–85.

Singh N-G. K (2005), The Birth of the Khalsa, A Feminist Re-Memory of Sikh Identity, Suny Series on Religious Studies.

Singh, N-G.K (2013). ‘Corporeal Metaphysics: Guru Nanak in Early Sikh Art’. In History of Religions. University of Chicago, Vol.53, No.1.

Singh N.G.K (2014), “Sikh Art” in P. Singh and L. Fenech eds. The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies, Oxford University Press.

Singh, N.-K (2020), “Auto-Ethnography: A Potential Method for Sikh Theory to Praxis Research, in Special Issue “Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage”, Religions 2020, 11(12), 681.




How to Cite

Vigo, L. (2023). Then and Now: On Activating Sikh Visual and Material Culture at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). Sikh Research Journal, 8(1), 57–76.