Dr. Devangana Desai
Educational Qualifications: M.A. PhD, University of Mumbai
Dr. Devangana Desai, art historian, is Former Vice-President of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai (until August 2015). She is Trustee, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India) Mumbai, and Trustee, Sarabhai Foundation (Calico Museum), Ahmedabad. Dr. Desai is Series Editor, the Monumental Legacy Series on the World Heritage Sites in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi. She is Member, Academic Council, Anantacharya Indological Research Institute, affiliated to the University of Mumbai.
Dr. Desai was Consultant on a Project on the Museum Images of Khajuraho, Franco-Indian Research, Mumbai. She was Joint Editor, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, from 1992 to 2009. She was Chairperson of the Museum Society of Bombay for nine years from 1983 to 1992.
Dr. Desai is author of 1] Art and Icon – Essays on Early Indian Art, 2013; 2] Khajuraho – Monumental Legacy, (15th impression, 2014); The Religious Imagery of Khajuraho, 1996; Erotic Sculpture of India – A Socio-Cultural Study, 1975, second Edition, 1985; Sectional Presidential Address, Indian History Congress (1989), entitled Social Dimensions of Art in Early India; and Presidential Address for Indian Art History Congress (2013) entitled Art and Literature – A Dialogue, and over ninety papers on various aspects of Ancient Indian Art. Presently, Dr. Desai is writing a monograph on Mythology and Art – Vishnu-Krishna on the Banyan Leaf.
Dr. Desai has delivered many prestigious lectures which include:
- Alice Boner Memorial Lecture, in Varanasi;
- Lecture at the National Mission for Manuscripts, in New Delhi;
- Dr. Umakant Shah Memorial Lecture, in Vadodara;
- Lecture at the L.D. Museum, Ahmedabad;
- Prof. K.D. Bajpai Memorial Lecture, at the 19th Indian Art History Congress Session, Kanyakumari;
- Smt. Nabadurga Banerji Endowment Lecture, at the Asiatic Society of Mumbai;
- A.K. Coomaraswamy Memorial Lectures, at CSMVS, Mumbai & also in the Allahabad Museum.
- Karl Khandalavala Memorial Lecture at CSMVS, Mumbai;
- Pandit Bhagwanlal Indraji Memorial Lectures at the University of Mumbai;
- Fr. Heras Memorial Lectures at St.Xavier’s College, Mumbai.
Dr. Desai has participated in many national and international seminars and conferences. She was invited to participate in the Siva Symposium, convened by Prof. Michael Meister, held in honour of Prof. Stella Kramrisch at Philadelphia in 1981. She was invited to participate in the Festivals of India in UK in 1982 and USA 1985. She has participated in the Seminars at Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Oxford, at Sussex at Brighton, UK, and at Heidelberg, Germany. She has lectured in the British Museum, London, and the Universities of Chicago, of Berkeley, of Vermont, and Cleveland, USA. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations had arranged her lectures at the Indian Embassy Bhutan, and the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, the Meru Foundation, Boston, and Mills College, California.
Dr. Devangana Desai was awarded the Silver Medal of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, 1977; the Homi Bhabha Fellowship, 1978-80, and the Dadabhai Naoroji Memorial Prize, 1983. She is awarded the Hirayama Prize 2015 of Institut de France, Paris, for “the totality of researches in the field of Indian Art”. The Samvidya Institute of Cultural Studies, Pune, conferred the Honorary Fellowship for “outstanding contribution to Indian Art History” in 2016.
A Festschrift, entitled Art, Icon and Architecture in South Asia –Essays in Honour of Dr. Devangana Desai in two volumes, was edited by Anila Verghese and Anna Dallapiccola in 2015.
Dr. Devangana Desai sponsored the renovation of the Sculpture Gallery of the CSMVS Museum, Mumbai. This was done in loving memory of her husband Jayant V. Desai who always inspired her and encouraged her research.