Art museums and the craft of democracy

News: Recently, the Prime Minister of India inaugurated the Pradhan Mantri Sangrahalaya on the grounds of Teen Murti House in New Delhi. While doing so he declared that the new museum would help youth value the expansion of constitutional government in India since Independence.

History of National Museums

Large art museums emerged in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They emerged alongside the rise of nations, colonial empires, and industrialisation. For example, the World’s most visited Louvre Museum in Paris was founded during the French Revolution.

After decolonisation, museums were built in newly independent countries along western lines to bolster their national narratives. They inspired a new national consciousness. Currently, India has the National Museum which is located on the Janpath Road.

About the Pradhan Mantri Sangrahalaya

New museum would be located on Raisina Hill. It will open by 2026. It will “vividly demonstrate different aspects of India or Bharat”.

The Museum will be equipped with augmented reality technology, computerised kinetic sculptures, holograms, and smartphone applications.

The primary purpose of the museum is to nurture patriotism and showcase triumph.

What will be the challenges for the new museum?

The new museum acknowledges India’s continuing diversity including its many conflicts.

Ensuring that irreplicable antiquities are not subjected to excess heat, cold drafts, humidity, and harsh light.

The Way Forward

Administration

The government can promote accountability. It can usher transparency in administering a premier cultural institution.

Design and Architecture

The new museum may emulate Charles Correa’s commitment to create accessible spaces in the public buildings like Auditoria, courtyards, concert halls, and cafes etc.

The new museum can have a host of different galleries. For example, one gallery can show the connected history of the Indus Valley Civilization with ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia etc. Other galleries can house coins and portraits related to Kushans etc.

Others

The new museums can display the entire collection of the National Museum Or at least as much of the collection that can be safely displayed.

The new museum should be seen as a laboratory ̥for the future. It should be used as a multi-purpose building dedicated to quarrying new histories and fostering fresh deliberations.

The new museum should also collaborate with the contemporary artists like Jitish Kallat and other forward -looking museums in the country like, Bhau Daji Lad Museum.

Source: The post is based on an article “Art museums and the craft of democracy” published in The Hindu on 23rd April 2022.

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