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Britain will get a guaranteed Indian Summer

Treasures leave Rajasthan for first time in British Museum show

The British Museum has announced plans for a spectacular six-month season showcasing Indian art and culture to mark the country's emergence as an economic superpower.

Indian Summer, a big-budget extravaganza starting in May next year, will bring together an exhibition of monumental paintings never before seen in Europe, as well as installations, performances, film screenings and the construction of an Indian garden, complete with banyam trees, in the museum's vast forecourt.

The highlight of the season, which is to be staged until October 2009, is an exhibition of 55 paintings called Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur, which will travel to Europe from Rajasthan for the first time.

The museum is also creating an Indian-themed landscape on the museum's west lawn in collaboration with Kew Gardens. It will stress the significance of plants in Indian culture, for food, medicine and in trade.

The season follows the success of showcasing Chinese art and culture at the museum during the past year.

The museum's focus will now turn to India as "another emerging superpower". Neil MacGregor, director of the museum, said: "With a huge Indian population in London and the UK, and as India becomes more and more involved in our economic, cultural, political and social life, it is the perfect moment for an Indian Summer."

The British Museum is not alone in its focus on India. A number of galleries around the world are staging shows on Indian art and culture this winter.

Indian Highway at London's Serpentine Gallery, opening next week, incorporates architecture, art, literature and performance.