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A Journey through 150 Years

Government College of Art and Craft, Calcutta, the premier art institution of Kolkata, is the pioneer among the few art institutions that can boast of celebrating the one hundred and forty fourth year of excellence in the art of painting and craft education in India.

We follow the methodical tradition of imparting a comprehensive, full time training in different branches of art and craft. Since the inception of Govt. School of Art in 1864, the year it was taken over by the Government, it has prided itself in being one of the most successful art institutions in India.

The journey that started under the guidance of Sir Henry Hover Locke did find at its helm, eminent artists like E.B. Havell, Percy Brown, and later Ramendranath Chakraborty, Mukul Dey and Chintamoni Kar.

Abanindranath Tagore, the key person behind the revival of the Oriental School of painting, had been, for 10 years, the Vice Principal of the institute till 1915.

Rabindranath Tagore stayed here for months and made approx 130 paintings, which were exhibited in the college gallery in 1932.

When Mukul Dey (1928 - 1943) was the Principal, the school started functioning as a co-educational institute. In 1951, the school turned out to be a full-fledged college and came to be known as Government College of Art & Craft, Calcutta (GCAC). The college celebrated its first centenary in 1964 under Chintamoni Kar as the principal, eminent sculptor and a disciple of Sir Henry Moore.

Today, the college takes pride in imparting art-education to aspiring artists in pre-graduate, under-graduate and post-graduate levels. B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Arts), a degree with honours with the affiliation of the University of Calcutta (CU) was introduced in 1983, during the tenure of Isha Mohammad, the Vice Principal and Officer in Charge. The post-graduate course with M.V.A. (Master of Visual Art) degree was introduced in 1998, when Biman Bihari Das was the Principal of the College.

In 2003, the College changed its syllabus as per U.G.C. norms and the Ph.D. programme under the C U was started in 2005. In July 2007, GCAC received the permanent affiliation of U.G.C. (Govt. of India) with Grade 'A' from NAAC. During its long traverse down two centuries, it has been a witness of the changing art scenario in India.

1854 In Calcutta, a society for the promotion of Industrial Art is established with representation from both Europeans and Indians, with Colonel Goodwyn as its President with Justice Hodgson Pratt and Babu Rajendralal Mitra as Secretaries.A prospectus issued on behalf of the committee on 6th April, proposes to start a school of Industrial Art in Calcutta, with a view to provide instruction in modelling, engraving and printing.The school opens on 16th August at Garanhata, Chitpur, in a house donated by Raja Pratap Chandra Singh and his brother Ishwar Chandra Singh.The school shifts to Colootala in the middle of November.1855 The first art exhibition by the students of the school is held from 22nd January to 3rd February.

On 10th and 11th October, the first annual exhibition with the works of students takes place.

1856 The first Government Grant of Rs.600/- is sanctioned by Lord Canning in July.

1864 Henry Hover Locke joins the school as Principal on 29th June.

The school comes under the control and supervision of the Director of Public Instruction, Govt of Bengal, and is shifted to 166 Bowbazar Street, Calcutta.

Locke introduces extensive changes in curriculum.

Students execute some useful works for the Asiatic Society.

1874-75 105 students complete the course in different disciplines.

An art gallery opens at 164 and 165 Bowbazar Street to engage the interest of the general public in art and to provide additional instructions through examples in various branches of art.

1892 A new chapter opens when the school gets its own building adjacent to the Indian Museum on Chowringhee ( 28 Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Kolkata 700016 ), its present location.

1894 The Art Gallery in Bowbazar closes down.

1896 E. B. Havell joins as the principal on 6th July.

The Annual Examinations becomes a regular academic feature.

1901 At the educational conference in Simla, presided by Lord Curzon, the Viceroy, the matter of state aid and control is reiterated. Havell's recommendations of emphasizing the original works based on Indian tradition and heritage is accepted.

1902-03 'Delhi Durbar' exhibition takes place at Qudsia Gardens and Abanindranath Tagore is honoured with a silver medal for his painting: Last Hours of Shajahan.

1905 Abanindranath Tagore, the first Indian artist to join the school as the Vice Principal who officiated as the Principal from 1906 to 1908.

Later on- Some senior students including Nandalal Bose, accompanies Lady Harringham to Ajanta caves for making copies of the rare murals of Buddhist era.

Percy Brown takes over as the Principal and introduces some changes. For the first time, students were commissioned to prepare Industrial Art pattern Books for Dacca Silverware and Bengal Ivory carving.

1915 Abanindranath leaves the Govt School of Art.

1916 Jamini Prakash Ganguly, the next Vice Principal, divides the Fine Art stream into two sections: Fine Art and Indian Painting, with Percy Brown's approval.

1925 Sashi Kumar Hesh, a student of the school in 1890s, becomes the first elected Indian associate of the Royal Scottish Academy.

1928 Mukul Chandra Dey, a member of Chicago Society of Etchers and a Royal College of Art Associate, becomes the principal in July. He was the most important practitioner of dry point-etching in India. He retired in July 1943.

1929 An exhibition of paintings by Jamini Roy takes place in September.

1932 An exhibition of Rabindranath Tagore's paintings is inaugurated at the art school on 20th February.

1939 Co-education is introduced.

Later on- Atul Bose, a GCAC alumnus & Royal Academician - a legendary master of the academic mode of painting, becomes the Principal.

A well curated portfolio of wood-cut prints is published by Ramendranath Chakraborty (the Principal), who introduced the first artistic publication of the original works done in GCAC. He retired in July 1943.

1951 The School of Art is declared as a College with effect from 2nd July, 1951.

1953 Nandalal Bose's retrospective exhibition is held in the College.

1956 The system of convocation is re-introduced by Chintamoni Kar during the presidency of Nirmal Siddhanta, the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University.

1964 The Government College of Art & Craft, Calcutta, celebrates its centenary.

1983 B.V.A. (the Bachelor of Visual Art) degree course starts with the affiliation of CU.

1998 M.V.A. (the Master of Visual Art) degree is introduced.

2003 The college changes its syllabus as per U.G.C. norms.

2005 Ph.D. degree and Programme is introduced.

2007 The Government College of Art & Craft, Calcutta, receives the U.G.C. affiliation on 15th July.

2009 The Government College of Art & Craft, Calcutta, receives Grade 'A' from NAAC in January.

2015 Semistar introduce in the Post Graduate level.

2014 First P.H.D digree get from the college.