National College of Arts

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National College of Arts
Motto Kasb-e-Kamal Kun Ke Aziz-e-Jahan Shavi
Motto in English
Seek excellence in your work, so you can be admired by the world
Established 1875 (as Mayo College of Arts)
Type Public art school
Principal Murtaza Jafri
Administrative staff
Students 700
Undergraduates 500
Postgraduates 200
Location Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Campus Urban
Mascot Scrotie
Affiliations HEC, PCATP

National College of Arts (NCA) is a fine arts and design college located in Lahore, in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. It has been ranked among South Asia's best art and design universities and usually alternates or ties with Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture as the top art school in the country.

Founded in 1875,[1] formerly known as the Mayo School of Arts, it is located at the The Mall; the NCA campus is adjacent to the Lahore Museum.[2] The Mayo School of Art was established along with Lahore Museum, with the intention to have a centre that served the requirements of the museum by preserving and patronizing the craft of Punjab. It is one of the oldest arts institute of higher education in South Asia.

Gazetteers written about the city of Lahore in 1915 describe the work being done at the school.[3]


In reaction to Industrial Revolution, a world wide movement gained strength i.e. Arts & Crafts Movement (1860-1910). The movement was about praising art & craft pieces hence negated industrial mass production. It was upon pressure of this movement that the British Crown decided to establish art schools in British India. Sir JJ School of Arts, Govt. College of art, Madras., & Mayo School of Arts are one of the pioneer art institutions in India. The Mayo School of Industrial Art was set up to perpetuate the memory of Lord Mayo, the British Viceroy of India, who was assassinated in 1872. Lockwood Kipling (father of author Rudyard Kipling), a teacher of painting and sculpture working then in the J.J. School of Art in Bombay, was appointed its first Principal. Additionally, he was held the charge as the Curator of the Lahore Museum.

The Mayo School of Art was established along with Lahore Museum in 1875, with the intention to have a centre that served the requirements of the museum by preserving and patronizing the craft of Punjab. This was twenty four years after the ‘Great Exhibition’ of 1851 in London The world at that point in time was busy in arguing about how to tame designers in response to machine rigidity. John Lockwood Kipling was made curator of the Lahore Museum and principal of the Mayo School of Arts. His vision and his genuine regard for indigenous art, allowed the craft of the region to sustain at a time when it was under siege in industrialized Britain. The London School of Design, now Royal College of Arts, was already there since 1835, functioning and debating the curriculum for industrial design. It was perhaps due to this dialogue that the thinker and artist Lockwood Kipling took up the task of teaching the artists and designers the critical function of craft and traditions.

The industrial change had to be accepted; and in 1958 the Mayo School was restructured by the Government of Pakistan as the National College of Arts. Professor Mark Ritter Sponenburg (1916-2012), a guru in art and design education, and a great agent of change was given the charge of Principal. He, too, established the links of craft with modern art and design. The exhibition ‘Folk Arts of Swat’ based on research in Swat area by him and the students of National College of Arts, still stands in a remote corner of the Lahore Museum. Primarily three departments were established: Fine Art, Design and Architecture.

John Lockwood Kipling first principal of Mayo College of Arts with Rudyard Kipling.

The new breed of artists, designers and architects filled the professional gaps in the society. In 1963, the government recognized the College as the premier art institution in Pakistan. It was consequently taken away from the Department of Industries and placed under the Education Department with its own Board of Governors. The new policy in 1972 recognized the achievements of the College and planned its development into a centre of excellence in the visual arts. A unique measure of autonomy, under the Federal Government, was ensured from this point on. In 1985 the College was granted a degree awarding status. This also empowered the NCA to institute graduate programmes in the field of visual arts.

M.A. in Visual Arts and an M. Phil leading to Ph.D. in Communication and Cultural Studies were initiated in 1999. In the same year, a Research and Publication Centre was established that has produced a number of books on history, art and various other disciplines within the social sciences and humanities. A project for the restoration and conservation of the archival records of Mayo School of Arts was also initiated, which has broadened in scope to include the archives of the NCA.

In 1999 the College started a two years Master’s degree program in Interior Design. Acknowledging the importance of information technology in the creative fields, the NCA initiated a graduate programme in Multimedia Arts in September 2001. The College has established departments of Musicology, Film & Television in the first decade of the 21st century. It has also established the Centre for Conservation and Cultural Heritage Management.

In June 2011, the NCA was granted a University status by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. [4]


Department of Architecture[edit]

The Department of Architecture offers a five-year Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch.) Degree. The course was established in 1985. Earlier the course was offered by the name of N.D. Arch (i.e. National Diploma of Architecture). The government of Pakistan through an Assembly Ordinence gave NCA a Degree Awarding status, hence NCA became the first autonomous arts degree awarding institution of Pakistan. The Department of Architecture offers a five-year course leading to the Bachelor of Architecture Degree (B. Arch). This course aims to train students for advance studies through knowledge and skill based creative environment. The design studio is a skill based laboratory to develop critical thinking among the students. The architecture program approaches design with an understanding of contemporary issues and debates in architecture.

In response to the changing trends of the 21st century, the undergraduate curriculum is designed to develop critical thinking, communication and analytical skills among students. Graduates of the College have been absorbed in the profession and in universities for higher education at the national and international level.

The College environment is conducive to learning and creativity. The department provides teaching and learning with the aid of a well-equipped computer lab. Most faculty members are practicing architects who enrich their academic discourse with their practical experience. Esteemed architects and planners lecture at the College on a weekly basis.

The course is divided into three levels: foundation course (first year), intermediate level (second and third year) and degree level (fourth and fifth year). The students are expected to take all the courses along with additional elective subjects every year from a wide variety of subjects related to art, architecture and design. The courses focus on architecture design, building construction, history & heritage, environment and technical aspects of architecture. Assessment of studio courses is done through a jury of work at the end of each project. Supporting theory courses are evaluated through assignments given during the term and an exam at the end of each term. [5]

Department of Fine Arts[edit]

The Department of Fine Art offers a four-year course leading to bachelor degree in Fine Arts. Many graduates of the Fine Art Department at NCA have found fame and recognition in Pakistan and abroad. The fine arts studios are located in the oldest section of the College, facing the main quadrangle and extend into a new wing overlooking the Town Hall. There are four Major areas of specialization: Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture and Miniature Painting. In the second year students take introductory courses in all four areas of fine arts. One Major area of specialization is selected at the end of the second term. Students work on their chosen area of specialization in the third year. In the fourth year the student’s work culminates in a thesis project. All teaching is studio-based with particular emphasis on drawing and developing an individual style. The will to experiment and critical self-analysis, is facilitated through group critiques and individual tutorials. All projects are critiqued and evaluated by a panel of external jurors composed of visiting artists/educators and teachers from the Fine Arts and other departments. One of the aims of the department is to train the students in the creative process. Apart from the techniques students are provided guidance regarding the basics of the materials pertaining to their respective disciplines. The department of fine art also facilitates the teaching of drawing and material and processes in the first year foundation course.The areas of specialisation are painting, printmaking, sculpture or miniature.

Department of Communication Design[edit]

The Department of Communication Design teaches the principles of advertising and visual communication, with special reference to manufacturing and marketing techniques. The students are required to complete a design process involving research, strategies of approach, design development and execution. The components of the courses offered are book illustration, package design, corporate identity and advertising campaigns.

Department of Ceramics Design[edit]

The Department of Ceramics offer a four-year Bachelor of Ceramics (B.Cer.) Degree. Ceramic design department of National College of Arts Lahore is technically teaching all the aspects of design to the students. The concept developing and designing for the masses is the requirement. The idea of mass production that leads to commercial building of your particular design and thesis is taught. The department is under the supervision of NCA alumni Miss.Shazia Mirza The Head Of the Department, Mr.Naveed Niazi and Miss.Ayesha Bashir both are respective teachers handling the students building in their foundation, respective design studies to thesis year. The department holds its separate Kilns and Potters wheels designed with perfection. The required material i.e. the red clay is provided to the students until their 4th year. A complete study of design and a know how of materials, arranging trips to certain factories and meeting people with full knowledge about the subject is all taken care of under this department.

Department of Product Design[edit]

This four year degree program is designed to enable students to realise their creative ideas into ‘functional form’ with a focus on the end user, their needs, habits, culture and economy. This design field relies borrows from areas of knowledge, technologies and sciences like anthropometrics and ergonomics. Students are trained in the design of 3D objects. Knowledge of modern processes and materials is central to the subject. Professionals are frequently invited to share their experiences in field and industry with the students. Students are given assignments of 3D objects design focusing mainly on the design process, user analysis, materials, techniques, constraints of industry and the consumer market. Basic skills like model making and computer design software are part of the curriculum. Supporting courses in drawing, sculpture and theory broaden the student’s perspective of design. In addition to design major, one studio subject is opted each term from a range of studio electives.

Department of Textile Design[edit]

Textile is a craft, as old as the human civilization.Headed by Iram Zia- a self acclaimed jewellery designer, the department lacks the resources required for the courses.Often confused between application and aesthetics of design.[6] It is a four-year Bachelor Degree Program incorporating current and classical traditions in the profession. It is an interface between materials and making that creates a challenging and dynamic environment. Patterns, weaves, knits, embroidery, embellishment and value addition through motifs, colours, materials, fashion trends and visual merchandising are some of the areas of textile design. The young textile designers are trained to face challenges pertaining to industry and economics, individual and society, techniques and technologies. The department trains the students to weave new ideas into industry or industry into their ideas, by making them work around a rigorous routine of industry based internship programmes. The department maintains hand looms, block printing, manual screen printing, and dyeing of fabric and yarn facilities as well as a computer lab for technological solutions. Ecological and environmentally sustainable design issues are made an important concern of the course. Hence courses and workshops on naturally extracted dyes and their applicability are an important part of the curriculum. Fabric construction, surface treatments, colour, pattern and trend forecast are the basics for a textile designer. But an ethical and conscientious design practice is also a must for a textile designer -that seriously lacks in the current administration of department it self.Unfortunately, the head of department is often found manipulating situations in her own interests.[6]

Department of Musicology[edit]

The Traditional Classical Music of South Asia has always been the primary medium of emotional expression and communication for people living in this part of the world and historically has been the original and primary language of emotive interaction. It has played the single largest role in our artistic and emotional lives. Classical music is an essential part of our heritage and a specific formative factor in our cultural and emotional identity as a people. The National College of Arts established the first ever Department of Musicology in Pakistan with its focus on the musical systems that evolved in the northern region of the sub-continent, at the under graduate level in 2002 with a four-year program entitled "Bachelors in South Asian Classical Music". The need for this program was felt because there is a lack of an informed understanding and sensitivity in the existing conceptual structure of our music. The purpose of the Department of Musicology is to produce musicians and musicologists who are willing to take on the responsibility of pursing both theoretical and practical music on a critical and intelligent level to combine it with techniques to create good music. Since musicology at its most fundamental is an inquiry and understanding of the "purpose" of music the Musicology Department at NCA aims at a revival of our musical heritage and to regenerate an interest in our classical music on the basis of a theoretical and practical understanding of music and a historical analysis of its aesthetics and composition."[7]

Department of Film and Television[edit]

The four year Bachelor Degree Program aims at broadening the student’s vision and skills through a well structured program focusing on professional knowledge of film and television. The program blends theory with hands-on practice based courses and offers interaction between various levels of disciplines required for a film & television programme. Students are also exposed to television and film studios, internships, active participation in seminars and discussion with guest speakers/professionals. The students get the opportunity to make a portfolio of their work in groups of up to four students from first year onwards, and completing at least two projects per year. There is a vibrant mix of an outstanding faculty of contract, visiting and international experts.

Department of Multimedia Arts[edit]

NCA created the Post-Graduate Center for Multimedia Arts (PGCMA) in 2000 and Mr. Muhammad Ali Tirmizi was appointed as project Director. In 2001 the first batch of students was enrolled which included Syed Maqsood Pasha, Mr. Zaffar Iqbal and Ms. Irum Zia from within the faculty of NCA. Mr. Muhammad Ali Tirmizi was appointed the Director of the Program. The programme was developed with the technical assistance from French Government and Ecol-D-Art, Aix-en-Provence, France.[8]

A Multimedia Center (MC) has been set up with financial assistance from the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB)[8] which lately was revamped with the financial assistance of the Ministry of Information Technology.

Department of Fresco Painting[edit]

National college of Arts started a new department in 2007 which offers a Professional diploma in Fresco Painting. The course outline includes calligraphy and illumination. Ustaad Saif ul Rehman is the famous name in Fresco painting and he is teaching Techniques of Fresco painting in this course.[9] [10]


Societies and clubs[12][edit]

  • Puppeteers NCA was inaugurated in 1992 with the first director Imran Qureshi, Ahmad Zaka Qureshi and later joined by Taha Ahmed Yasin, Nosheen, Hussain Halai, Adeel Mumtaz, Ali Imran...
  • Skits - The Skits Society is responsible for the most awaited performance at the summer and winter festivals. The skit performers learn to keep a keen eye on College activities and individuals with caricature potential. The result is the equivalent of a farcical gossip column reporting on the goings on in the College.
  • N.T. Mime
Ajaz Anwar a teacher of the college
  • "The End Film Society" also known as "Wehshi Film Society" makes videos for the college, competitions and TV.

"The End" organizes film shows of foreign films and documentaries, with the aim of helping students to analyze technical details of the art of film-making. The current director of the society is Diyach Thebo while Moeez Hassan and Fatima Ali plays pivoted role in Society while Rizwan Mangi from Sindh tries to destroy society several times. The End was started in early 2000

  • Cine Circle is the film club that was started by the film and television students of the college. Film screenings along with a discussion session by the directors were organized by the film club during 2009 - 2010 including Taqwacore (film), Zar Gul and Zibahkhana. Indian film Firaaq was also show when its director Nandita Das visited the college in 2009. The society was usually being criticized by the conservative faculty members and students for the screenings of Socialist Realist films including The Battleship Potemkin and Cranes are flying among other Soviet films.
  • Nautankye - experimental theatre group established in September 1994.
  • Alif Adaab - until 1999 the theatre groups of NCA were oriented towards comedy and slapstick genres. Till then only mime was considered a medium of tragedy performance. Alif Adaab was founded by Saji (Sajjad Gul) as the first dialogue based serious theatre in NCA 2000. Alif Adaab's aim was to explore every kind of literary and performing art, but with time it became a theatre group.
  • Undraap Nexus - Undraap Nexus specializes in mime and has been instrumental in popularizing the genre in the Country. The members are trained in the discipline through rigorous exercises conducted during workshops. Depending on the nature of the narrative, the society utilizes various styles of the art form such as pantomime, street mime and sometimes cartoon caricatures to illustrate the story.
  • Eastern Music Society - Members of the Eastern Music Society play Eastern classical and folk instruments as well as Western instruments used in contemporary Eastern music. The performances range from Eastern classical and Folk music from various parts of the Country to film and Pakistani pop.
  • Western Music Society - Members of the Western Music Society sing and play instruments in the Western music tradition such as drums, keyboard and guitars. The genres mainly focused on are Pop, Rock and World Music. The society is formed of a core team of musicians, students join them as vocalists and guest musicians on the College festivals.
  • Dance society

The Dance Society came into being after the efforts of Adnan Jehangir aka "Adnan Nacha". With assistance from the Sundas, the team registered Dance Society at the college stage and it is now a regular participant in local cultural events.

  • Haroof - NCA’s literary society, founded in 1999.

Lahore campus[edit]

The Lahore Campus is ideally located in the heart of the cultural capital and enjoys a historically rich neighbourhood. The College is flanked on one side by the Lahore Museum and the Town Hall on the other side, with the Punjab University Old Campus across the road. The lure of the city for students is not just limited to the magic of history and the world heritage sites. The area between the Badshahi Mosque and the NCA is a treasure of a vast array of materials, from the conventional to the contemporary. This is a city where people make things on site and livings are made from ideas; from metalwork and plastics to print workshops and digital art. These are the techniques and methodologies that have remained unchanged for centuries and also those that are new. This is an extraordinary space for research, collaboration and innovation and one that is utilized by NCA students as a second home from day one of their entrance into the College.

Not far away is Royal Park, the iconic cinema district, the Pakistani film industry lived and worked here in an air of its own creation. Cinema hoardings with their unique style were painted and repainted in its narrow lanes.

Recently Lahore has begun to reclaim its own in South Asia, the city is host to theatre, art exhibitions, music festivals, symposia and lectures conducted all year round and with local and international participation, all of which are accessible to the students of NCA.

What is unique about study at the NCA is that students are not merely voyeurs in the drama of a city. Students of the NCA take their performances into the public sphere, in its streets, galleries and work in its industries.

Rawalpindi campus[edit]

NCA Rawalpindi campus was established in 2006, with two departments, Fine Arts and Architecture. The Architecture faculty includes Ali Ahmad Shah, Saima Salahuddin, Waheeda Bhatti, Saira Abbasi The Fine Arts faculty comprises established artists like Nadia Hussain, Aqeel Solangi Nadia Rahat Imran Hunzai and Hassan Ali of the sculpture department.[13]

The NCA Rawalpindi campus, headed by Dr Nadeem Omar Tarar, provides a unique educational, urban and cultural setting to cultivate the students’ latent potential and provide them sufficient latitude to experiment and develop ideas in an environment that promotes creativity and freedom of expression. It also aims to help the students in acquiring artistic skills, ideas and confidence to succeed in their professional careers as highly creative individuals who can carve a niche in the global cultural economy.[14]

NCA Rawalpindi is very actively engaging with other public and private sector organizations to promote art and culture.[15] It is also helping private galleries to grow and has established linkages with them.[16]

NCA Rawalpindi campus is also undertaking a huge research and publication project to document the history of Potohar region.[17]

The Student[edit]

It is the student body that truly makes the NCA distinctive. Approximately 700 students are enrolled at Lahore Campus and 180 at the Rawalpindi Campus. Our students come from all parts of the country and from extremely diverse socio-economic backgrounds. The variety in backgrounds, identities, ideological positions and languages becomes our strength.

The diversity of our student body engenders a unique NCA culture where debate and discourse are promoted. This promotes creativity, understanding, individuality and tolerance. Our foreign students are easily absorbed into the College mainstream.

Foreign Linkages[edit]

International cooperation and cultural exchange has become very important for institutions to think and act globally. The need to establish linkages with international institutes was felt strongly. Initial linkages were established through a variety of activities like international film festivals, international exhibitions and artist-in-residence programmes.

The College has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a number of institutions: The College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Australia, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France and Instituto Superior de Arte Havano Cuba for faculty and student exchange program. A program of an academic link in the field of sustainable design is being finalized with the University of Edgehill, United Kingdom. An MOU is established between the NCA and Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts Programme, (VITA), Prince’s Foundation, UK.

These opportunities provide members of the NCA community with the much needed competitive edge to thrive internationally. At the same time, our programmes bring students and staff from all over the world to experience the NCA. Institutional linkage partners are the British Council, Anniemarie Schemmil Haus and Alliance Frances.

NCA in modern times[edit]

Due to its distribution as the one of the two highly reputable arts institutions in Pakistan (the other being Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture Karachi), entrance to it has become competitive. Around 500 students from all provinces study in the College (out of which nearly 60 percent are girls) and is taught by a teaching staff of 40.

There is a high rate of employment for its diploma-holders in a number of important organizations in the country: Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan National Council of the Arts, University Grants Commission, Security Printing Press of Pakistan, National Book Foundation, and the Department of Films and publications. Apart from the urban development authorities, its graduates are absorbed in the private sector by advertising agencies, architectural consultancies, industrial and publishing houses.

The work of students can be seen at the annual Thesis Display.


Mayo School of Arts[edit]

National College of Arts (1958 - present)[edit]

Head of Department (HOD)[edit]

  • Department of Film &TV

Majid Saeed Khan

  • Department of Architecture

Syed Maqsood Pasha

  • Department of Textile Design

Iram Zia

  • Department of Communication Design

Nadeem Bashir

  • Department of Product Design

Shahzad Manzur

  • Department of Musicology

Sarwat Ali

  • Department of Ceramic Design

Shazia Umbreen Mirza

  • Department of Fine Arts

Quddus Mirza

  • Department of M.A Interior

Syed Faisal Sajjad

  • Department of Visual Arts

Prof. Dr. Murtaza Jafri (Principal) Director M.A. Visual Arts

  • Department of Communication and Cultural Studies

Farida Batool

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Haji Muhammad Sharif


  • Prof. Shakir Ali


See also[edit]


External links[edit]

31°34′07″N 74°18′27″E / 31.56859°N 74.30737°E / 31.56859; 74.30737