CHICAGO January: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjeetoday dedicated a plaque of Swami Vivekanandaat the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago and inaugurated a Tagore art exhibition here, to mark the 150th birth anniversaries of Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore.

“Swami Vivekanda was practically India’s first cultural ambassador to United States,” Mukherjee said at Fullerton Hall, where Vivekananda had delivered the famous and historic address at theParliament of the World Religions in 1893 to tremendous applause.

“This plaque fulfills our commitment and executes the long-cherished desire of people of India,” he said.

India will give USD 500,000 to Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) to conduct ‘Vivekananda Memorial Programme for Museum Excellence’ that will allow professional exchange of ideas between it and various museums in India.

Under the programme, AIC will work with the Indian Government to impart a broad range of knowledge on modern operations of museums like conservation, planning of exhibitions, etc., for a four-year period.

Mukherjee thanked AIC president Douglas Druick for his cooperation in setting up the Chair.

The minister also cut the ribbon for the opening ceremony of Tagore’s paintings called “The Last Harvest”.

“His (Tagore’s) paintings and drawings remain fresh even today,” Mukherjee said.

Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao also spoke of Vivekananda’s contribution to the merger.

“Swami Vivekananda marked the beginning of East-West global dialogue,” Rao said.

AIC is also planning to spend USD 175,000 for India in planning of exhibitions and conservation techniques.

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