A Curated Talk Series Celebrating International Museum Day, 2020

International Museum Day is celebrated all over the world on 18th May every year around a particular theme given by International Council of Museums(ICOM). This is the time when all the museums of the world celebrate their existence in a holistic and meaningful way. On this day the entire museum fraternity worldwide takes an oath to attain certain purpose and serve the society for a bigger cause. This year 2020 has been altogether a different experience for all of us. We all have started adapting, a life with the crisis, emerged due to pandemic. But at the same time, we all are also committed to living it meaningfully. With this vow, we the museum community members of Assam have joined together to celebrate this occasion virtually. And in this aspect www.abhijna-emuseum has been adapted as the distinct platform for echoing our diverse perspectives to make up us, ‘the museum community’ in the same line of argument raised by the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

Thus to mark the occasion of International Museum Day ,a curated series of lectures are put together, to be delivered by some great museum minds including scholars and professionals. These video talks shall be available for the viewers from 10am onwards on 18th May, 2020 in the virtual emuseum platform www.abhijna-emuseum.com.

Enjoy viewing and enjoy listening..

Introduction to International Museum Day Celebration 2020

Sangeeta Dutta, PhD, Archivist, American Institute of Indian Studies, Gurgaon, Haryana

Corona Pandemic and Museum Dilemma

Speaker: Prof. A.K. Das, Director, Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Museum,New Delhi

This year due to the pandemic, the worldwide lockdown has created a vaccum in the socioeconomic scenario of every nation and the museum institutions are one of the sector which are badly hit by this pandemic crisis. To fight this situation the museums have tried to find alternative and have decided to virtually connect with people. They are opting and designing other programs and are organising online events, exhibitions, lecture series, seminars on the available virtual platforms to remain connected with their visitors. Onlooking the present situation and it’s related future impact on museums a new museum culture has to be evolved.

Beyond Museums

Speaker: Sangeeta Dutta, Archivist, American Institute of Indian Studies. Gurgaon, Haryana

Covid19 virus effects worldwide compelling us to adapt ourselves to a new life, think in a different scenario. As museum professional, to re-place the museums in a different plane, and making us to re-think, what can be the next, what is there further or what is beyond! Personally, it leads me to think on the line of re-defining another role of museums. In this process, museums becoming ‘inclusive’ at the same time widening their horizons. This talk is an attempt in today’s situation to re-define another role of museums. This attempt is more towards new museological approach involving communities at the same time involving other resource centres like Archives and similar repositories.

Museum & Inclusion: Global Perspective

Speaker: Pankaj Protim Bordoloi , Education Officer, Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum, New Delhi

The key element of this talk, introspects the popular mandate of a more inclusive museum capable to respond to a greater diversify public. Museums are confronted with greater accountability towards its social responsibility and to restructure its understandings and change the perspective of their audience engagement. Museums have made considerate steps to become inclusive organizations as public funding institutions, although there is still way ahead. The challenges manifested in the core of the sector and acceptances to radical changes are important aspects, this paper intends to deliberate.

Questions on the meaning of inclusion, its importance and impact on audiences have been raised in the paper. Also pertinent challenges and possible remedies for achieving better inclusiveness in museums are equally discussed.

Let’s adopt a Museum : A Jorhat District Museum initiative

Speaker: Abantika Parashar, District Museum Officer, Jorhat

The District Museum in Jorhat, Assam was founded in the year 1989. Jorhat is one of the district of Assam with historical importance and is considered as the meeting point of two significant cultural phases which is evident from its geographical distribution. As one of the prime museum of the district, the District Museum Jorhat is constantly trying to design its outreach activities highlighting heritage components. Around this idea, a ‘Lets Adopt a Museum’ concept has been designed, developed, processed and executed in the last few years. Following the guidelines of new museology, the campaign aims to generate heritage awareness and in-situ preservation of material culture among the people of Jorhat. As a part of the programme, an Archive or Museum theme based set-ups are being developed at selected places in and around Jorhat, including schools, colleges, private organisations and universities. Thus, this talk will attempt to highlight the basic idea behind the concept and it’s related problems and prospects.

Role of Museum in Equality

Speaker: Geetanjali Barua, Founder, CHINAKI- A Centre for Heritage

Museum for equality is an indication of the social inclusion role a museum and heritage organization carries within. Equality stands for race, gender, religion and belief, disability, sexual orientation, age, socio economic status. With the changing ideas of Museums, today, they are being recognized as an agent with the power to affect human rights, concerns for equality, diversity, social justice move from the margins of museum thinking and practice, to the core. Equality for all, diversity to make a framework among the countries of the world is the holistic idea towards which the museum institutions are evolving

Modern Visualisation and Diversity in Museums

Speaker: Upasana Kashyap, History of Art, University of Hyderabad

Modern Visualisation lodges in us on what we see, what we cannot see, and what we should see, classifying the objects on what is pleasing and ugly, appropriate and offensive, based on preferences influenced by cultural, political, social, religious and racial settings. Museums are a great medium to store and showcase objects of history and cultures from centuries ago to contemporary times and therefore have the power to influence and give visibility to things to a large diverse population. Institutionalizing inclusivity in museums can provide an educational opportunity and social justice for people of any gender identity, ethnic and religious backgrounds and disabilities to engage and connect with objects, giving equal value and visibility to vast histories and cultures which would otherwise stay ignored lessening the involvement of certain groups of people

Health and Well-Being in Museums

Speaker: Namrata Sharma, Project Curator, Assam State Museum

Cultural institutions such as museums have an important role to play in society. The new museums have experienced a paradigm shift from objects to individuals. Hence we find the changing role of museums in the 21st century and one of the key aspects is Health and Well-being in museums. Assam State Museum is the first government institutions in Northeast India to collaborate with medical professionals and develop a support mechanism for those bravely fighting cancer. Assam State Museum provides its own space for museum-based support groups; art and craft based therapy sessions, and awareness programmes.

Overcoming Language Barrier In Museum Spaces

Speaker: Prerana Das, Museum Assistant, National Museum, New Delhi

The talk aims to analyse the development of breaking the language barrier in museum spaces as how museums engages with visitors from vastly different backgrounds is seldom addressed. It focuses on the salient tools that can be used by museums to innovate new ways of addressing this issue. It provides an overview of several techniques which have already been adopted my museums across the world to a degree of success. For museums in India- a nation with myriads of languages, ethnicity and a complex history, breaking this barrier poses a difficult challenge. Language is an inseparable part of culture and living in a multi-cultural global society in present times no language should be treated superior to the other. In trying to make the museum space more inclusive in its diverse representation, it will also gain an advantage in archiving and perhaps even help in reviving many lesser known languages. By opening their doors without a language barrier, museums will strategically build a community connection among people from various backgrounds. With a cross-interest connection, visitors will be left with enriching and valuable experiences that will pique their curiosity to learn more about dynamic communities apart from their own. The purpose of the talk is to invite more people to join in this dialogue of sealing the language gap in the 21st century while interacting with objects of art.

Lesser Known Museums of Assam: An All Inclusive Approach

Speaker: Pooja Sonowal, Research Assistant, National Museum, New Delhi

Museums are built around a theme that represent a community’s ethnic traditions, history of a place or a person, and meaningfully tells a story of the past as well as the living culture.
Other than the popular museums in Assam there are some lesser known museums which altogether carries a distinct character of inclusiveness and diversity. These meaningful museums, with different themes, concepts, aims and objectives are found in every part of the state, both in rural and urban areas, displaying artefacts in visual and narrative forms representing the rich heritage and history of this region. An in-depth understanding of the collective nature of these museums reveals that, all together the existence of these museums reflects the socio-cultural diversity and historical harmony of the region.

Ethnographic objects of North East India in the National Museum, New Delhi

Speaker: Mridusmita Bhuyan, Research Assistant, National Museum, New Delhi

The Anthropology Department of National Museum, India has a considerable collection of ethnographic objects from the North-Eastern states of India. These objects can be grouped into art and craft items, textiles, jewellery, masks, artefacts from the head hunter communities of Nagaland, headgears and other utilitarian objects etc. The Elwin collection is the most pride possession of the department which has a lot of specimen from different communities of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. The topic of my talk intends to draw a brief sketch of the specimens from the north-eastern communities preserved in the National Museum. It will put on light how the Museum highlights the importance of these communities by showcasing it in a museum gallery and making it inclusive of a bigger cultural property.

Human Experience of Partition: Understanding Partition of the Indian sub-continent through Oral History

Speaker: Saudiptendu Ray, Research Assistant, National Museum, New Delhi

Discovering partition through archival materials helps in building an accurate picture of the chronology of the political events that led to the ultimate partition of the country into two. Recently the history of partition has been reconstructed with the help of oral narratives, memoirs, etc. These enables historians to write a vivid account of what people experienced during partition, which is almost impossible to extract from government records. The Partition Museum in Punjab creates a bridge between the official records and oral history and comprehensively charts the political events of Partition that moves from the time before partition, proceeds to the independence movement, the early demands for separate countries, and ultimately the Partition and its consequences.