As per the International Council of Museums (ICOM), 18th May is celebrated all over the world with enthusiasm as International Museum Day. On this occasion museums, the world over organize different programs and activities to create awareness among the masses about their culture and heritage. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 museums, public or private, have had to close their doors for public. Most of the cultural institutions, museums, etc are organizing its activities through internet. Today museums are facing tough time to preserve their collections, ensuring the safety of staff, dealing with financial issues and staying engaged with their public.
As per reports 90% of the world’s approximately 60,000 museums are facing full, partial or eventual closure. Culture never stops, and it is crucial that museums keep going too, especially in the face of COVID-19.” Museums are more than just places where humanity’s heritage is preserved and promoted”, as per noted Ernesto OtteneR Assistant Director General for Culture at UNESCO. At a time when billions of people around the world are either under lockdown or under home quarantine, museums can bring us together.
Museum literally means a home or the temple of Muses who are goddesses representing various aspects of Arts and Literature in the Greek mythology. Museums in all the countries have become a part of the social life, imparting education to the old and the young from generation to generation. Museum is an institution which performs collection, preservation, exhibition and interpretation of the natural and cultural objects of our environment.
Since museums present the saga of events, from prehistoric times, through the dawn of civilization till the present day, they collect, preserve and present the tools and artifacts of the past, so that the past is not missing from the present .With this in view museums have come to occupy the place of community centers and educational institution. We have evidence of existence of museums and picture galleries in India since earliest days. The temples were often museums of arts and sculptures, and the people of all the age and races adopted a taste for music, dance and other requirements.
After independence when India was declared a democratic republic, museums have become more important in our National life. Some of the policy makers recognized that the traditional methods of imparting education in schools, colleges and other technical institution are not enough for the purpose. We are passing through the space age and see progress on all sides. Thus, due to the impact of science and technology, man is coming out of his leisure in acquiring knowledge. As a result museums have changed from being store houses of assorted objects to educational institutions. Therefore, we must have museum of many types like Arts and Crafts museums, Science museums, Archaeology, Geology, Anthropology museums etc.
The history of museums in India is to be traced to the Asiatic Society of Culcutta, founded in 1784 AD. The collection of antiquarian remains date back to late 1796 AD when the Asiatic Society of Bengal felt the need to house the enormous collection of archaeology, ethnological, geological, zoological pursuits. However, the first museum by them was started in 1814. Since then thousands and thousands of museums of various categories have come up almost in every city. It has been the policy of the government of India to keep the small and movable antiquities recovered from the ancient sites, in close association with the remains to which they belong so that they may be studied amid their natural surroundings and not lose focus by being transported. Sometimes back Comptroller and Auditor General of India(CAG) has also recommended the setting up at least one museum in each district with different chambers for visual and other forms of art, architecture, science , history and geography with regional flavour.
Since the Tourism in India is important for the country’s economy and is growing rapidly the museums in India played an important role to promote tourism as well as generate foreign exchange. A Tourist who comes from a distant part of the country or abroad would like to know through the museums of the country about the land, people, environment, natural resources ,history and culture etc.
Realizing that tourists have limited time,the museums should make necessary arrangement to introduce them to some of its most interesting exhibits. For example a visit to the world famous museum of Louver in Paris would convince anybody that the chief attraction of the museum is the painting of Leonards da Vinci’s, i.e Monalisa. The tourist in Paris considered it is a religious duty to pay reverence to Monalisa at least once in his life time. Similarly, the tourists go to Amsterdam to see in the Ryke’s Museum the famous painting named Night-Watch by Raembrandt.
Thus, the local or site museums also play an important role in the ” Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” ( Self Reliant India Campaign) by exhibiting the local art, crafts, pictures of heritage, monuments, post cards, slides, souvenirs of famous monuments, sculptures and photographs of museum object as well as replica of the same by organizing museum shops .It proves to be a good source of income to the museum. Moreover, it helps local craftsmen for sale of their productions and keeps the art, crafts alive and make the people selfdependent.
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