The Oriental Seminary is one of the oldest schools in Kolkata, located on Chitpur Road in the northern part of the city. It has educated many important Bengali artists and public figures, Rabrindranath Tagore being the most famous. The school is one of West Bengal's most important cultural and educational institutions, and continues to educate hundreds of school children today.
The Hamdasti team became interested in this school because it serves as a special, active example of the cultural history of Kolkata. We had heard about the school's importance as a theater institution, given its history as a center of Shakespeare performance in the 19th and 20th centuries. Upon visiting the building, we found ourselves interested in the architecture, its status as an active educational institution, and the dynamic community surrounding the school.
We are looking forward to partnering with the Oriental Seminary and the West Bengal Heritage Commission in directing a project about the school, and its potential for physical and cultural restoration. We have a planned a workshop with the Oriental Seminary's students, involving artists, curators, and architects, to discuss with students their ideas about heritage and the overlap between personal and collective histories. Instead of working from a bureaucratic view of historic preservation, we hope to understand the community's needs, desires, and hopes for the physical infrastructure of the city.
Please visit our blog for updates on our preliminary research, field trips, information about site, the participants, and the workshop. And please contact us if you are interested in participating!