Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday said museology is a neglected field in the country and urged the Indian Museum in Kolkata, the oldest in Asia, to come forward to lead a change.
“The Indian Museum can and must take a leadership role. By doing so, it will not only enrich its own collection, but will also help other museums across the country,” Singh said at the inaugural function of the bicentenary celebrations of the museum here.
He also inaugurated the newly-renovated campus of the Indian Museum, which was closed to visitors since September. The Rs 100 crore renovation is funded by the Union Ministry of Culture.
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The PM urged the authorities at the Indian Museum to make it such a place that it becomes a port of call for all tourists coming to Kolkata, especially those coming from abroad. “It should offer the visitor an exciting and educative prospect of spending a few hours sampling the best of Indian art, sculpture, and other historical artefacts, giving a glimpse of our extraordinary and rich traditions,” he said.
Recounting the long history of the Indian Museum, which was founded in 1814 at the Asiatic Society Building, at the inspiration of Nathaniel Wallich, a Danish botanist, and later shifted to the present building in 1878, Singh said the real challenge was to make the museum more interesting for the common visitor.
“The Indian Museum is known as ‘Jaadughar’. The word Jaadu means magic as well as wonder. The challenge is to enhance both as it is only a magic-like fascination with the wonders that lie within the portals here that will enable the museum to remain relevant for the next two hundred years,” Singh said.
He also suggested that multi-lingual audio guides should be introduced to give the visitors a detailed and authentic account of the major items on displays.
The PM released a commemorative postal stamp and a monograph to mark the 200 years of the institution, which is the biggest repository of Indian antiquity and heritage.
Governor M K Narayanan, chairman of the Board of Trustees termed the museum “an epitome of modernity in antiquity.”
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who also spoke on the occasion, announced that the state government will set up 166 rural museums in the districts. “The process of identification of land is going on and soon the project will be implemented,” she said.
Union Minister for culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch and planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia also attended the event.
Mamata remains cold to PM
Kolkata: There was a marked chill in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s behaviour towards Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he reached Kolkata to attend the inaugural function of the bicentenary celebrations of the Indian Museum. Mamata had assigned the job of receiving the Prime Minister at the airport and seeing him off to state minister for co-operation Rachpal Singh. She, however, came to Indian Museum at 10 am to receive the PM at the gate. She accompanied the PM while he was being given a tour of the various galleries and later on the dias, during the function, the two had a brief conversation for just a minute.