september 10, 2015: award-winning architect picked for downtown dallas cultural center (the dallas morning news)
august 1, 2013: large downtown dallas site bought for south asian museum (the dallas morning news)
For Immediate Release
July 30, 2013
Dr. Gardner Harris
Director of South Asian Religion & Arts
Shraman South Asian Museum and Learning Center Foundation
Shraman Foundation announces purchase of 4.7 acres in Downtown Dallas to build a museum focused on South Asian art, history, and culture
Shraman South Asian Museum and Learning Center Foundation, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, announced today the purchase of the 4.7-acre lot at 1100 McKinney Avenue in Downtown Dallas. This site, across Woodall Rodgers from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and just west of N. Field St., is the future home of a unique museum and learning center dedicated exclusively to the artistic and cultural heritage of South Asia, with a primary focus on India. Newt Walker, President of Newt Walker Co., represented the Foundation in the real estate transaction.
The Foundation’s mission is to raise awareness about South Asia and its contributions to the world. While the building’s design and program are still in development, the vision of Dr. Vinay and Kanika Jain is quite clear. Sculptures, paintings, textiles, and rare manuscripts will be on display in the museum’s galleries and there will be an array of interactive, educational exhibits designed to introduce key elements of South Asian history and culture. The learning center will have a library, study areas, a small performing arts theater, and classrooms. Dr. and Mrs. Jain intend to provide a space for the public to learn South Asian languages, such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, and Kannada, attend lectures, take courses, watch dance performances, and experience festivals. They also want to create a green space with sculpture gardens and a reflecting pond.
“There is no museum in the country that focuses exclusively on this region of the world,” said Dr. Jain. “Its heritage is so rich and its culture so dynamic that I felt it was necessary to provide a space where it could be preserved, interpreted, and displayed.” The museum and learning center will have the unique opportunity to provide an in-depth exploration of South Asia.
The museum will be in close proximity to Downtown’s leading visual and performing arts institutions and will contribute to the cultural and artistic vibrancy and diversity of Dallas. “Because of our Arts District, as well as notable venues such as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Latino Cultural Center, Sixth Floor Museum, Holocaust Museum and Dallas Heritage Village, Downtown has become a destination which celebrates culture and history from all over the globe,” said John Crawford, President and CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc. “This transaction not only creates development on a currently void parcel, but works in tandem with the institutions we enjoy today.”
KERA's Art & Seek: A Passage To India (Via Downtown Dallas)
Stephen Becker | August 19, 2013
Just across Woodall Rodgers Freeway from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, a parking lot takes up a prime chunk of real estate. But one day, that spot will be home to a center dedicated to the art and culture of India.
That’s because a prominent Dallas doctor has bought the land with the idea of building a museum and learning center dedicated to India and other South Asian countries.
Dr. Vinay Jain is the Dallas oncologist who now owns the 4.7 acre property. He says the proximity to the Perot Museum and Dallas World Aquarium means his museum will be in an area that people already visit to learn.
“We feel this location gives an opportunity to expose a lot of people who may not otherwise be contemplating visiting a center or a museum or a cultural opportunity to learn about this whole subcontinent of South Asia,” he says.
Dr. Jain was born in India and has lived in Dallas for 20 years. Until a few months ago, his plan was to build a modest center dedicated to his home country. But when he heard about the chance to buy the land downtown, he started thinking big.
While Dr. Jain stresses that it’s still early, his vision for the space includes galleries dedicated to South Asian art, classrooms for teaching Indian languages and a theater to show movies from the region.
And he’s already hired Dr. Gardner Harris, an expert in Asian cultures and languages, to think through the center’s possibilities. Which is a tall order.
“When you try to encapsulate a particular region of the world that has maybe 5,000 years of documented history, how do you do it?,” Dr. Harris said. “Do you focus on one area, do you focus on just a couple?”
Dr. Jain has already consulted with the Crow Collection of Asian Art. The Crow Collection shows art from across Asia, including the Indian subcontinent. But where others might see the potential for competition between the museums, the Crow says there’s an opportunity for collaboration.
“Absolutely,” says Stacie Wheelock Adams, the Crow Collection’s Director of External Affairs. “Some of the things that are obvious fits – for example, we have an annual Diwali celebration here that we’ve been doing for many years. We also have a street festival called Discover India, that’s very popular. … We’re already engaging with the Indian community; I see that talking throughout this process as a great way to help them get started and get engaged.
One thing that the Crow has already figured out is that specialized museums have to attract visitors from all backgrounds. Dr. Jain says that’s his goal, too.
“We would not have invested this sort of money if I only wanted to cater to the 50,000 or 80,000 people who were either born in India or the subcontinent or the children of those parents,” he said.
Dr. Jain declined to say how much he paid for the land, but its tax-assessed value at $12.3 million.
The next step is to choose an architect to design the project. If everything falls into place, the center could open its doors in 2018.