Reliance Industries and Nita Ambani bring 600 Years of Indian History to The Met

‘Tree & Serpent: Early Buddhist Art in India, 200 BCE–400 CE’ opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) on July 21st.

The exhibition was made possible through support from Reliance Industries Limited and Nita Ambani, Founder and Chairperson of Reliance Foundation, an Indian philanthropic organization. A longtime, passionate supporter of the museum, Nita Ambani was named an
Honorary Trustee of The Met in 2019, becoming the first Indian person on the museum’s board of trustees.

Commenting on the occasion, Nita Ambani said, “I come from India, the land of the Buddha, and it is a huge honour for me to support ‘Tree & Serpent’ through Reliance Foundation’s partnership with The Met. This historic exhibition traces the origins of early Buddhist art from 2nd century BC to 4th century AD, with over 125 objects from ancient India. With the ‘Tree & Serpent,’ we take immense pride in
showcasing the deep-rooted connection between Buddhism and India. The teachings of Buddha are entwined with Indian ethos and continue to shape global thought. I hope people from around the world come and enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience. We remain committed to bringing the best of India to the world, and the best of the world to India.”

Organized around a series of interlocking themes centered around original relics and reliquaries from ancient India, the show evokes a time when the country’s religious landscape was transformed by the teachings of Buddha, which in turn, found expression in a rich repository of art devoted to relaying his message. It focuses on the sublime imagery that adorned the stupas – a religious monumental structure found in ancient India. Stupas not only housed the relics of the Buddha it also honored him through symbolic representations and visual storytelling – beautiful specimens of which can be marveled at in the exhibition which culminates with the image of Buddha himself.

Reliance has supported The Met since 2016. Other notable exhibitions supported by Reliance are Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs (October 11, 2017–January 2, 2018) and Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee (June 4–September 29, 2019), which marked the first comprehensive display of Mukherjee’s work in the United States.

Under Mrs. Ambani’s leadership, Reliance Foundation has sponsored key cultural events in India such as The Elephanta Festival, and Abbaji, the annual concert of master musician Ustad Zakir Hussain, among the many efforts to recognize the cultural legends of India and ensure their relevance to a younger generation.

At the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC), Reliance Foundation has supported the arts and crafts exhibition SWADESH which has provided a global
platform for showcasing traditional Indian artisans.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens— businessmen and financiers as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day. Today, The Met displays tens of thousands of objects covering 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in two iconic sites in New York City— The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters.

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