CMK’s founding archives is based on photographs by late Dwarika Das Shrestha. The Das family has been involved in the photography for four generations, starting in 1927 when the first Das Studio was established in Darjeeling by Thakur Das Shrestha. When Dwarika Das Shrestha moved back to Kathmandu, he helped pioneer the photo studio and postcard industry in Nepal in the late 1950s and even offered videography classes in Kathmandu in the 1960s and 70s.
Late Dwarika was an avid social worker. He was Nepal Red Cross Society’s as well as Rotary Kathmandu’s first Vice President. A mountaineering enthusiast, he also spent several seasons training with his friend Tenzing Norgay Sherpa at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, taking part in their earliest expeditions in the late 1950s. For much of his later years, he regularly went on long walks in Kathmandu city.
The young photographer grew up friends with the late King Birendra and Prince Dhirendra and Gyanendra during their years in Darjeeling where the three princes were educated. The relationship continued for sometime in Kathmandu too. However, late Dwarika had at least once printed and distributed posters of B.P Koirala, the father of Nepal’s pro-democracy movement, during Nepal’s struggle for a democracy in the 1980s, an act that was illegal at the time.
The Gallery’s archives also includes works by his son Gyanendra Das Shrestha, who at age 18 won the 1976 Koishikawa Rotary Prize at the annual international photo contest organized in Japan by the Asia Pacific Photo Cultural Center for United Nationsw (UNESCO) and is also the 1978 winner of the Asia Pacific Photo Cultural Center for United Nations (UNESCO) photo contest. He has spent most of his career using photography to promote tourism in Nepal. In it’s peak, there were over a dozen Das Color Labs in Kathmandu alone, and was the country’s largest and most sought after postcard producer. Gyanendra currently lives in New York with his family.
Kashish Das Shrestha is a fourth generation Das photographer who started in Nepal and went on to spend many years as a photographer in New York. For almost half a decade, he has used his work as a photographer to support his independent environment and sustainable development research and work in Nepal.
Kashish first developed the initial idea for the Gallery and Museum in 2004 during his weekly long conversations with his grandfather.
Late Shrestha passed away only days after discussing a seminal exhibition of his works curated my his grandson. The images Kashish inherited from his grandfather make up the City Museum Kathmandu’s foundation collection.