Career in Museology

Till a few years ago, the general conception of history was that it is a storehouse of dates, endless names and some age old description of the past which we have never seen. Very few used to opt for history as a career option out of interest, but mostly went for it with the aim of cracking any competitive exam. In other words, these national level competitions were one of the main reasons why history was alive as a subject among the students. The notion that study of history can be interesting or fondling with historical data can be a career option was very remote, especially among the students. But in recent time, history has succeeded in pushing aside these general perceptions and has emerged as a career option for many enthusiastic young people, who are fond of mystery, adventure and thrust for discovery. Museology is such a subject that has gained a lot of popularity of late, especially in the western countries and in the national capital of India.

What is Museology actually? In simple words Museology is the scientific study of museum i.e. Museum management. Museology teaches how to handle the museum and the collection that is posses keeping in mind the necessity of the visitors. Now comes what is there to be studied about museums, which is nothing but a storehouse of some age-old objects, made of stone, wood or terracotta. Honestly speaking when I enrolled my name for the master level study of Museology, I too personally had such type of questions in my mind. But once I stepped inside the world of museum, I understood how wrong my knowledge was in this regard. Because, now a days, museums are no longer house of wonders, but is regarded as a live document that has attached our present with the past. Gone are the days, when museum used to insure the durability of the excavated materials, but now it tends to safe gourd the tangible and intangible heritage of the society, that has tend to lose its existence in front of big notions like globalization, boundary free world etc.

A person who is trained in Museum studies is called a Museologist. The duty of a Museologist is not only to take care of the collection of the Museum, but in the same time is to take care of the management system; its various outreach programs, planning different socio–cultural activities and maintaining an atmosphere intellectually healthy to fulfill the needs of the visitors. That means the profession of Museology consists a bit of management skills, PRO activities, a creative mind, knowledge of the surrounding world and contemporary advancements along with basic knowledge of science and architecture. That is what is taught in the master level study of Museology. The course material contains a comprehensive study of everything that has been mentioned above.

I have completed my master level study from National Museum Institute (N.M.I), New Delhi. This is a small university under the Ministry of Culture, New Delhi which can be regarded as a pioneer institute of this field in India. N.M.I offers master level study in Museology, Conservation and History of Art along with certificate courses on some other subjects like Art Appreciation, Bharat Kala Nidhi. The time duration of the master level study is two years, which is divided into four semesters. Equal importance is given on the practical knowledge and henceforth here practical and theory papers carry equal marks. Students are required to submit a dissertation and to present two seminars for acquiring the degree, for which they can take extended semesters if required. Admission procedure begins here from mid of every year (mostly in July) and the minimum required qualification is graduation in any discipline (minimum50%). There is no age limit for taking admission here. For taking admission students have to sit for an entrance examination along with a personal interview. The course fee for two years is around10-11,000 rupees. However, what is interesting about this Institute is its location. The National Museum, where N.M.I is located is one of the prime museums of India and so its students get good opportunities for practical knowledge. When I was pursuing my study, I got the opportunity of working in two important exhibitions. One of them was organized by the authority of the National Museum in association with the Canadian Embassy and the second one was organized by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (a pioneer institute under Ministry of Culture for promoting art, culture and heritage) in collaboration with Shankardeva Kalashetra, Guwahati. Some of my other batch mates worked for the Commonwealth games and National Art Summit. Although these works are temporary, but they are good source of practical knowledge and also provide good financial support.

What is important here is to mention that the concept of Museology is new born to India and whatever advancements has been done, are mostly confined to the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Although Assam has contributed some eminent names for Indian Museological field, but till now there is very less scope of this subject here in Assam. There are no such big museums or Museological activities in Assam along with lack of interested people, although Assam has the biggest opportunity for being a hub of it out of India. As a result, Assam or the North-east has no institute to offer this degree. Therefore anybody who wants to take a career in this field has no option but to go to outside Assam. Apart from NMI, there is Banaras Hindu University (Banaras), Delhi School of Heritage, Research and Management (Delhi), Baroda University (Gujarat) and Aligarh Muslim University (Aligarh) also offers master degree in Museology. Studying outside Assam, especially in place like Delhi, may be a costly affair, but there is scholarship facilities here in most of the Institutes.

In a nutshell, Museology as a career is a new concept in India, but is full of scope and opportunities. India being the country of unity in diversity is a lucrative name for the Museology field worldwide and henceforth there is demand for Indian musicologists everywhere. Even foreign Institutes are also offering opportunities with fat financial support for higher level of study like PHD abroad.

Abantika Parashar
Museologist, Assam