CLIENT Government of Bihar
ARCHITECT Maki and Associates, Opolis
YEAR 2012 – 2016
VISUALS AWA & Maki and Associates


Situated on a 13.9-acre plot of land, the museum is designed to reflect the rich history of Bihar, a state in India, which is the birthplace of Siddhartha, who later became Shakyamuni Buddha. The architecture evokes the cultural history and epic scope of the Bihar region in a manner that reflects the past and future of India. Our lighting design solution supports this hierarchy of spaces by creating layers of light.

Designed to house the treasures of the state, Bihar Museum serves primarily as an educational center focused on the region’s rich history. Visitors begin their journey in the Main Lobby, a generous space which serves as the main orientation point for all major museum functions. The white ceiling undulates toward the center, admitting softly diffused natural light through the skylight above. A layered approach is used to develop the lighting, which creates a sense of visual hierarchy and anticipation. The pedestrian experience through the spaces makes visitors feel a sense of time and history in the present moment. The constant presence of the natural environment has been highlighted by creating various focal clusters.

Dedicated circulation routes guide visitors on their journey through the galleries. Inspired by sheltered exterior passageways seen in traditional Indian architecture and designed as a buffer space between the main exhibition and the exterior courtyards, the cloisters form a continuous path through the main galleries. Moving from courtyard to courtyard, the mood changes accordingly.

The lounge marks the halfway point of the exhibition and is accessible through the cloisters adjoined to the sides. An art installation by Bihari artist Sanjay Kumar, a large bronze Buddha begging bowl surrounded by brass Buddhist monk figures, serves as the focal point grounded in the center of an exhibition. The light transitions through the day to natural diffused daylight to the bright lighting coming from the side openings at night.