Museology is neglected in India: PM
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Sunday said museology is a neglected field in India and added that Indian museum can and must take a leadership role in making good this deficiency.
Inaugurating the bicentenary celebrations of the Indian Museum here, Dr. Singh said: "Museology is a neglected field in India and it is not enough now to just house a collection but there should be efforts to document, study and analyse the collection and build up collaborations with other great museums."
"On the whole, while our museums have been successful in disseminating the rich past of our country, it is also necessary to ask whether they should not attune their approaches and strategies so that they are more in keeping with the enhanced connotation of the term museum," he said.
"I would therefore call upon the management of the Indian Museum to see itself as an agent of change and development. As it renews its journey, it should seriously think about its role as a purveyor of knowledge. It is not enough in today's world to house a collection. A museum needs to document, study and analyse its own collections, make comparisons with similar collections held elsewhere and build up collaborations with other great museums whose collections reflect and shed light on what it holds," he added.
He further said the first requirement for this purpose is the development of trained personnel.
"Unfortunately, museology is a woefully neglected field in our country. The Indian Museum can and must take a leadership role in making good this deficiency. By doing so, it will not only enrich its own collection, but will also help other museums across the country," he said.
"There is another related dimension that needs to be borne in mind. Museums across the world are now important tourist destinations. Many great cities of our time are defined by the presence of some truly outstanding museums in them. People travel thousands of miles to visit museums. To be truly enriching, the visit must be a complete experience," he said.
"This means extensive support in terms of signage, documentation and cataloguing. Museums must become attractive places where visitors can observe and learn in a relaxing atmosphere," he added.
"The Indian Museum needs to build up this kind of infrastructure and take its rightful place as one of the great museums of the world. The restoration that has been completed is a very good start. I would strongly urge the introduction of multi-lingual audio guides that will give the visitor a detailed and authentic account of the major items and displays," he said.
Asserting that Museums in the 19th century were seen as collections a€" great storehouses of objects, artefacts and pieces of art," Dr. Singh said: "The very act of collecting these and storing them justified the making and existence of museums. In the late 17th century, the word museum simply meant a building used for storing and exhibiting objects illustrative of antiquities, natural history, art and the like. The museum was thus a seat of the muses."
"With time, however, this meaning of the word museum came to be overlaid with another connotation: a building dedicated to the pursuit of learning or the arts. The word muse, the root of the term museum, thus came to acquire a dual meaning in the role that museums played in society. It is a collection but it is also an institution of learning and the dissemination of learning," he added.
Dr. Singh concluded by saying that the Indian Museum is known popularly as "Jaadughar".
"Let me close by reflecting on the fact that the Indian Museum is known popularly as "Jaadughar". The word jaadu represents both magic as well as wonder. The challenge, then, is to enhance both and make the museum space more alluring, because it is only a magic-like fascination with the wonders that lie within the portals here that will enable the Museum to remain relevant for the next two hundred years," he said.
(Posted on 03-02-2014)