FRED PINN GALLERY

Frederick Michael John Pinn, known as 'Fred' to his large circle of friends and admirers was born in Germany in 1917. When the Nazis came to power, he hastily left Germany and after working for some time in an agricultural kibbutz in Palestine, reached London in 1935. Here, after changing some jobs, he joined the London County Council as a teacher. With this, he seemed to have found his real vocation - that of a teacher. Later, he qualified - with distinction - as a professional teacher from the University of London. Here, History was his main subject and by this time he had already developed a keen interest in India.

After serving in the U.K. and East Africa, Fred came to India in the late 60s. During his stay here, he served in Pondicherry, Darjeeling and Calcutta. While in Calcutta, he established the Pinn School in Behala. It was a unique institution for Fred believed that education went for beyond the prescribed text book and sought to bring out and develop the special talent and interest each student was born with. The students loved Calcutta. When during his last days, he was once asked as to what he considered to be the happiest period of his life, he replied in his feeble voice, “My Calcutta days.”

During his days as a teacher, Fred developed not only a love for this country but also a keen interest in its history and culture. And, as he traveled across the length and breadth of the country, he collected books, maps, manuscripts and paintings, in fact, anything and everything that would give him an insight into the diverse and rich culture of this ancient land. A good example of his eclectic interest in India's culture and its people are his two books, one on the history of Darjeeling - (The Road to Destiny) and the other on the 'Sea Snails of Pondicherry.' This in fact, was a rare interest. Fred not only built up a collection of more than 25,000 seashells but was also considered to be one of the most eminent of conchologists in the V. K. This entire collection, consisting of several rare and valuable specimens, Fred willed to a student of his who had developed an interest in this subject, largely inspired by Fred himself.

His other abiding interest was the collection of palm leaf manuscripts. These he collected from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma and the interiors of this country, especially the south. At some point, he also developed an interest in the technique of writing on palm leaves and started collecting the tools used for them - some of which are on display here. The other highlight of Fred's collection are his books, specially strong on the Raj period with some of them very rare. Fred's collection is also rich in maps of India with the oldest map going back to 1522.

An avid photographer, Fred always carried his camera as he traveled for and wide within the country. The result is a collection of some eight thousand colour slides of monuments, sculptures, places and people.

Fred Pinn breathed his last in July 2003. Before his death he dearly wanted his collection in India to return to the country of its origin. From the effort of Dr. O.P. Kejariwal these nice collection came to Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum. Finally, to quote a favorite phrase of his, whish he would repeat on numerous occasions: "God bless India".