The inauguration of The General Amar Singh Kanota Library & Museum took place on January 29, 2013 in the presence of Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur and Princess Diya Kumari of Jaipur at Castle Kanota (15 km. from Jaipur on Agra highway)
Kanota Garh, a castle built in 1872 and the seat of the Thakurs of Kanota, is situated roughly 30 minutes from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. The castle is noted for its most famous resident, Thakur Amar Singh (b. 1878, r. 1924-1942) and his detailed hand-written diaries that run into several large volumes and give us privileged glimpses into courtly life in Rajasthan at the turn of the century.
Thakur Amar Singh’s tastes and passions provided much of the impetus for collecting at Kanota in the early 20th century, although they also reflect the interests of others in the family and Kanota’s rich history. The Kanota Garh collection has been documented over two years, with a preliminary focus on the visual materials such as paintings and photographs, as well as the books that constitute Thakur Amar Singh’s library.
The period library recreates Amar Singh’s library and personal rooms, offering visitors the opportunity to physically experience the spaces he lived in, the objects he used, and the books he selected lovingly and treasured. With adjustments made for exhibition design and visitor flow the library – including the furniture – is as close a match to the original as possible. Original material has been used where available, and props consciously chosen to create as authentic an experience as possible.
The period library at Kanota is also unique in India, for being the chosen collection of primarily one person, acquired not merely for display, but prized, read and commented upon. Over time, Thakur Amar Singh’s books numbered over 2000; including periodicals that he subscribed to as well as wrote for, manuscripts, and his 40-odd volumes of photograph albums containing over 3500 images, the material in the library approaches 3000 volumes.
Commencing with cataloguing, our role was to advise on strategising and planning the museum at the castle premises, selecting and creating the content – including relevant publications – for it, supervising the implementation of the details. Along with our partners, we helped in restoring and conserving important collections, including those chosen for display.