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The theme of the day was “Expanding Vision for Best Practices in Museums”

By Ratnadeep Choudhary

International Museum Day was celebrated with much enthusiasm on Thursday at the National Museum, New Delhi. The event was attended by the CEO of NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant; the Additional Solicitor General of India, Pinky Anand, the ADG, National Museum, RK Mishra; programme specialist, UNESCO, Moe Chiba, Dr Shikha Jain from the Dronah Foundation and Kishwar Desai, chair of the Partition Museum Trust. Unfortunately, chief guest Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, was not able to attend due to the demise of Union Minister Anil Dave.

International Museum Day is organised every year on May 18 since 1977 in order to make people aware about the importance of museums. On the occasion, the museum was decked up with all the galleries open and free entry for visitors. The theme of the day was “Expanding Vision for Best Practices in Museums”.

Mishra gave the inaugural speech and mentioned that museums help to preserve culture and no matter how much the country progresses economically, people should remain attached to their roots. He also encouraged youngsters to visit museums more often. A book, Museum Dialogue in India, edited by Rama Lakshmi, was launched alongside the inauguration of a website on Mapping Media (Sahapedia). The book talks about how museums can be seen in a different light in India.

Anand said that “history is fascinating” and helps one understand who we are. She also mentioned that nowadays museums are rewriting history as they are becoming more vibrant and this in turn helps them to connect more with teachers and the youth.

Chiba mentioned that the number of artifacts in the museums in India has increased rapidly. However, instead of a “dull storage room” it needs to be displayed to the public in an attractive way.

Kant stated that “museums are not about artifacts but about expressions and ideas”. He also pointed out how museums can be in the driver’s seat of the tourism industry and hence, apart from the cultural heritage factor, they can also boost the economy. However, without proper display we are losing out on the rich cultural heritage which India possesses. He cited the example of the Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul which has used 3D technology in order to showcase its culture. He mentioned that PPP (Public-Private Partnership) is the way out as it would provide adequate funds to properly showcase our heritage.

Desai presented the vote of thanks and thanked National Museum, UNESCO, Dronah Foundation and the National Museum Trust for sponsoring the event. Various panel discussions were held throughout the day on topics ranging from the role of museums to their design and accessibility to help people have a better idea about museums.

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