Forgotten Vista: Beyond History And Archaeology

Synopsis: This article explains the various methods to make National Museum more public engaging.


The government’s Central Vista project plans to increase the size of the Parliament, placement of buildings for military personnel, and additions to the bureaucracy to cater the present and future India’s needs. Similarly, the Central Vista project will also shift the National Museum of India, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). Using this opportunity, Indian museums need to go beyond a cultural display of past achievement to a more constructive public engagement.

Read more: Central Vista Redevelopment Project
How global museums are constructive?

The world is already moving in the way of constructive public engagement. Beyond mere history and archaeology, the more recent public additions around the world include museums for urbanism, ecology, space, design and toys, besides the holocaust and partition museums.

For example, A Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and a Museum of the Future in Dubai.

How Indian Museums can revamp during the Central Vista project?

Three potential ideas are proposed in this regard.

First, Transparent showcase of bureaucratic life

This includes the possibility of including art and culture in the various new secretariat structures themselves. The government departments have to enlarge their buildings and house their own contribution to culture and public life.

Ministries can use this to exhibit art and artefacts on food, agriculture, textiles and technology, etc.

Read more: Issue of shifting National Archives of India’s annexes – Explained, pointwise
Second, A separate, retrofitted circle of museums

This includes removing culture into an entirely different section of the vista. Several artists have suggested organising the existing princely houses into a ‘Circle of Culture’ and house the arts and artefacts there.

Once vacated diverse museums could be retrofitted into these (Vista) buildings, with little or no additional construction.

Third, adopt new use to the abandoned infrastructures

Some architects believe that the disused archaic infrastructure, such as abandoned industries, power plants and rail lines, should be put to newly adapted reuse. They show the examples like Tate Modern gallery in London.

If implemented then Delhi’s now-defunct Ring Railway network, abandoned nuclear power plant at Dadri could provide surprising and accessible cultural places.

In conclusion, the government needs to find common ground that seeks innovative cultural renewal (Under Central Vista) and also meets with genuine public approval.

Source: This post is based on the article “Forgotten Vista: Beyond History And Archaeology” published in The Times of India on 29th Sep 2021.

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