Bihar Museum: Rediscovering India's Glorious Past

The Bihar Museum welcomes you to experience a world-class showcase of one of the richest collections of Indian art in the world — through the museum's permanent collections, which span the history and legacy of the lands now known as Bihar.

In order to extend the Patna Museum, the Bihar Museum — a state-of-the-art facility — was created to give the collection their rightful home. Designed by the renowned Japanese architecture firm, Maki & Associates, the Bihar Museum provides 24,000 square meters of built area on a "campus" of 5.3 hectares.

The architects have conceived the Bihar Museum as a symbol of India's past and future — through the use of weathering steel in the exterior cladding. The use of steel embodies India's historical dominance in metallurgy, as well as India's current prominence within the international steel industry, of which Bihar's rich natural resources have played a critical role. Weathering steel is a durable material that compliments its context and creates a dignified contrast to the surrounding greenery. The museum exteriors are also clad with stone, terracotta and glass finishes.

The Bihar Museum is seen as a learning landscape — a cultural resource to help spread the joy of learning to children — that fosters a sense of belonging and wonder. The Bihar Museum today, stands as a beacon to the region and the world — just as Bihar itself once was. Ultimately, the museum is a gift to our future generations to ponder, explore, and be inspired by our rich heritage, tradition and culture.

Historically, Bihar played an immense role in shaping the cultural, spiritual and political milieu of the Indian subcontinent. It was a land where the Great Buddha attained enlightenment, where the mighty King Asoka renunciated the practice of conquest through war to embrace dhammavijay — conquest through moral principle. He established the world's first welfare state — thousands of years ahead of time.

Since time immemorial, Bihar has been the epicentre of some of the greatest thought-leaders, the most powerful empires and the most renowned shrines of knowledge and peace. Apart from the great tangible artefacts, objects and symbols, Bihar has produced some of the greatest universal concepts through Buddhism and Jainism

More recently however, Bihar has fallen on hard times. It seems to have lost its way. The purpose of the museum, then, really is to try to install a sense of pride in their own heritage. The museum's aim is to articulate the many layers of Bihar's antiquity — to ensure that this history remains seen and felt in the present. For the people to be able to be inspired by their heritage and tradition — which will hopefully propel them to achieve new heights in the future.

We positioned Bihar as a land of enlightenment and focussed on Bihar’s contribution to India and the world. The print collaterals not only connect the museum artefact to past achievements but also relate it to more contemporary aspect of Indian deeds. For instance, the concept of ahimsa that Gandhi so effectively used against the British, originated in Bihar as seen in the Ahimsa Lion of the museum.

The Communication Strategy for the Print Program was based on emphasizing Bihar’s past glory and future potential in a way that it creates Bihari pride and change world perception of Bihar.. The Print Program included various collaterals in both Hindi and English — large scale hoardings, banners, posters | Print Advertising in newspapers and magazines | Inauguration Collaterals : Brochures explaining the vision and mission of the museum, the process of conceptualizing the museum, and a showcase of various aspects of Bihar and the museum collection in ways that are impossible to experience all at once in the vast museum | Children's Posters in the form of a treasure hunt to be conducted in the museum | A give-away Leaflet with map | Press Kit (folder, notepad) for the inauguration | A whole range of Tickets for groups, adults, children, photography etc. |

Ishan Khosla Design is proud to have been a part of this prestigious and meaningful project. Our role was to work on the Brand & Communication Strategy, Brand Identity and Print Collaterals in both Hindi and English. The latter include an Advertising Campaign, Posters, Inauguration Brochures, Tickets, Brochure-cum-Map and a Press Kit.

We created the entire content from scratch — the conceptualization of the brochures, posters, ads, tickets, info-kit and brochure-cum-maps — to researching and writing content — and photographing the artifacts in a manner to enhance the communication — and of course, design all the print collaterals. This meant that we needed to understand our audience and how the museum with its collection, the aura of the architecture and of Bihar — would help spread the message of this great institution in this great state of Bihar.

For instance, the posters and ads — which are in both English and Hindi — address various aspects about the museum, the region of Bihar, its history and its deep impact on the Indian cultural, political and social milieu. While the Hindi ads and posters focus on the aspect of Bihari pride — an essential need in today's Bihar; the English communication is driven by a "wow factor" that tells the reader the amazing feats of Bihar — that most people are not aware of.

The Challenge
The challenges of this project went far beyond the usual technical challenges one faces in graphic design and included challenges working with a large body such as the Bihar Government, researching historical documents and records, to understand the key artifacts of the museum and what their significance to Bihar and India are, to write content from scratch including coming up with ideas such as Typologies of Artifacts based on Materials or Daily Use. The idea was to create communication materials that delight the visitor and enable them to experience the museum in multiple ways — to encourage multiple visits to this vast and splendid museum.