Kiran Nadar

Kiran Nadar

Not all art enthusiasts start their career with art. Some take time to finally accept their passion and transition into a full-fledged professional space of art. Ms. Nadar is among those. Born in 1951, Ms. Nadar pursued English Literature at Delhi University’s Miranda House. Post college, she began her career in advertising field in 1970 with Mass Communications and Marketing (MCM). After a few more stints in the advertising industry, she came back to Delhi to help her mother’s garments manufacturing company Alumna India Pvt. Ltd. But while she was creating a career in advertising or manufacturing field, Ms. Nadar also felt inclined towards arts. This continued even after she married Shiv Nadar – the Founder of HCL Technologies – whom she met in 1975. When Shiv Nadar was growing HCL, Ms. Nadar was helping NIIT become a popular brand. During this time, she also kept nurturing the avid art collector in her before finally becoming a popular one.


Ms. Nadar may have begun her career as a communication and brand professional in advertising field, but she also held art closer to her heart. Thus, when she finally got the opportunity to take a step back and invest time in collecting art work, she did not stop. Instead, she continued her passion for art collections and finally in 2010, she opened India’s first private philanthropist museum. It contains over 8,000 exquisite art pieces that she collected since 1988.

Now known as the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), the museum has two branches in Delhi NCR in Saket and Noida. Some of the famous works from the KNMA collection are of leading Modern and Contemporary Indian artists, including MF Hussain, FN Souza, SH Raza, Raja Ravi Varma, Nasreen Mohamedi, Nalini Malani and Arpita Singh, among others.


The roles that Ms. Nadar plays are multiple. The most revered one is that of a philanthropist. She is literally the “hero of philanthropy” with her incredible initiatives. Apart from her art contributions, she is an active part of Shiv Nadar Foundation, which is known for its transformational educational initiatives. From VidyaGyan schools to Shiv Nadar University, she has been a part of many successful educational institutes under the foundation. Through VidyaGyan schools, she has been able to provide quality education to the economically underprivileged, meritorious students of rural India.


Ms. Nadar did not just win medals in international tournaments, but also won several recognitions for her contribution towards art and society. Forbes Asian Magazine named her “hero of philanthropy” thanks to her launch of India’s first private philanthropic museum. In 2018, she was named “Collector of the Year 2018” by India Today Art Awards.

In 2019, she was an awardee for India Today Art Awards ‘Public Art of the Year’ for the India Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2019. The UK-based ArtReview has named her among 100 most influential people in the contemporary art world.


The current plans on Ms. Nadar’s priority list revolve around art. She believes that art is therapeutic for people and this is why she is trying to reach as many people as possible. During the pandemic, she introduced virtual tours of some exhibitions, allowing audiences a 3D viewing experience.

The biggest milestone coming up is the new KNMA stand-alone building designed by Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye. This state-of-the-art building will be located in Delhi and house the new museum and a cultural centre.