Bhubaneswar : The International Museum Day, celebrated on 18th May, aims at creating awareness among people about the great contribution that museums make to society. This day also celebrates the roles of museums in promoting cultural exchange, diversity, and inclusivity.
Speaking to the Press this evening, Amiya Bhushan Tripathy, the Odisha State Convener of the Indian National Trust form Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said that the problem about Indian museums is that we continue to follow a colonial policy in managing India’s heritage. Heritage was managed solely by central or state governments worldwide until the early 1950s. Policies changed thereafter worldwide, except in India, where no volunteers are allowed to work at museums. The government rules simply do not allow for people deeply interested in culture and heritage to participate.
Tripathy further said “Article 51 A of the Indian Constitution lays down the fundamental duty of all citizens to value, preserve and protect our composite culture. Intach is India’s largest non-profit membership organization dedicated to conservation and preservation of India’s natural, cultural, living, tangible and intangible heritage.”
INTACH’s contribution to promote Museum culture in Odisha is noteworthy. INTACH has had the proud privilege of executing four museum projects in the two decades. The Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Judicial Museum were set up at Cuttack. The ancestral house of Netaji at Puri too was converted into a museum by INTACH. Two more museums are underway, one at the renovated Town Hall in Sambalpur and the other at the Citizens Jubilee Library at Balangir. The Manoj Das-Manmath Das memorial at Balasore too is being undertaken. A proposal for a Millet Museum at Cuttack is under consideration. Besides these, INTACH has been instrumental in the preservation and conservation of many heritage structures including the Charchika Temple at Banki, the Rani Bhakhri at Sambalpur, many old temples of Bhubaneswar, portion of the Nilagiri Palace etc.
According to Anil Dhir, Convener of INTACH’s Bhubaneswar Chapter “Museums have become just storehouses. There is little outreach since schools and colleges are not connected to museums. Educational visits and tours will educate students about history, geography, sociology, anthropology and archaeology. Intach is doing its part, but the government should loosen rules and allow citizens to fulfil their fundamental duty to preserve and protect their composite culture.
Dr. Biswajit Mohanty is of the opinion that raising funds through corporate and private donors should be allowed in India just like the practice of private sponsors for museums abroad. With the new Companies Bill mandates that corporations set 2% of their net profits for Corporate Social Responsibility, funding heritage protection can be one area that companies could consider to make a difference and to preserve, protect and popularize India’s heritage.
Museums should be set up in each district which would encourage school children and the public to take interest in our heritage and culture and work for its active preservation. They would instil a sense of pride in the glorious heritage of the ancient land of Kalinga.