The Museum is home to CMK’s permanent collections, primarily archival photos belonging to the three families that pioneered photography in Nepal.
Our founding archives belong to the Das family, whose Das Studio, first opened in 1927 in Darjeeling, pioneered photo studios and the postcards industry, offering photography and 8mm filming classes in the 60s and 70s. Our permanent collections include archives of the Chitrakar family, who began as royal court artists and photographers, and documented some of the most intimate and intriguing moments in Nepal’s royal courts; and the Thapa family, whose Photo Concern earned a reputation for its studio portraits and other photographic services. Learn more about our Permanent Collections.
Detailed information will accompany the images on display, helping visitors get a deeper understanding of Nepal’s transformations and rich cultural heritage. CMK will host a public talk series on this topic, among others.
The 2800 sq. ft. space is divided by wooden walls that emulate the gullies — alleys — of the city. The wooden walls in the museum are portable, allowing the option of using the entire space like a large hall.
Once you enter through the emulated gully, the space transitions into a bahala/courtyard, a typical feature of the valley’s old Newari homes.
From the courtyard, lit with natural light, you walk into a darkroom, where large lightbox displays of photographs, mostly old photos of the city, are the only visible items in the otherwise unlit room.
To build our space as an experience and not just an exhibit, we began by carefully selecting over 12,000 old bricks to build the museum interior and courtyard with. Many of these bricks, flatter and wider than their modern counterparts, date as far back as a century or more. On some occasions, an old house would be torn down in the morning, and its bricks would arrive at our site later that day.
There are two types of old bricks that have been used for the museum floor, wall, and courtyard. They share their lineage with those that make up Kathmandu’s old palaces and three Durbar Squares: Basantapur, Patan, and Bhaktapur. These UNESCO World Heritage Sites have inspired the floor patterns, while the courtyard is borrowed from old Newari homes in the valley, where they are a central component, the water spouts in it a part of its main water supply.
Nepal is the fastest urbanizing country in South Asia, and Kathmandu its urban center. The valley has transformed in unrecognizable ways in the last two decades, and cultural experts agree about the uncertainty this pace of transformation holds for what is left of the valley’s built heritage. The Museum pays homage to this heritage.