MUSEUMS: THE CUSTODIANS OF OUR PAST

MUSEUMS: THE CUSTODIANS OF OUR PAST

Nearly every country, every civilised nation, be it large or small, boasts of one or more museums. Museums are the places where our history is preserved along with our heritage and culture. In formal language, a museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment, for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment. The main purpose of museums is to collect, preserve, interpret and display objects of artistic, cultural or scientific significance, for the education of the public. They also promote better understanding of our collective heritage and foster curiosity and self-reflection. The world’s largest and most visited museums include the Louvre in Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city, the National Museum of China in Beijing, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C, the British Museum and National Gallery in London and the Vatican Museum in Vatican City.

TYPES OF MUSEUMS :

Museums are not only relevant but are also very necessary today. They are the institutions which are in charge of conserving,  protecting and displaying artifacts from our past and thus preserving our rich culture and heritage. Simply put, without museums, we would lose the tangible link to our past. They are, indeed, the custodians of our past! There are various types of museums, though because of their diverse origins, varying philosophies and myriad roles in society, rigid classification is always not possible. However, based on the nature of their collections, museums can be classified into five basic types. These are General, Natural history and Natural Science, Science and Technology, History and Art. A more recent addition is the virtual museum which transcends all other types of museums  by virtue of its unique electronic presentation.

MUSEUMS IN INDIA :

India is a land of rich and diverse cultural heritage. It is endowed with rich architectural splendours, culture, tradition and historical past. In each destination of India, one can come across a museum ( or more), which displays the magnificent past of the region. There are many popular museums in India that unfolds lots of unheard truth of a bygone era.

• National Museum ( Delhi) – One of the largest museums of India is the National Museum which was constructed in 1949 in the city of Delhi. It houses a variety of collections that include jewellery, paintings, armors, decorative arts and manuscripts.

• Indian Museum  ( Kolkata ) – In 1814, the Asiatic Society of Bengal established the Indian Museum in the cultural hub of Kolkata. It possesses six sections containing five galleries of creative and scientific work of arts that is archaeology, Geology, Economy, Beauty and Art.

• Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Museum ( Mumbai ) – It was established in the proximity to the Gateway of India, Mumbai. It comprises of three main sections such as Archaeology, Natural history section and Art section.

• Salar Jung Museum – Salar Jung Museum is located in the beautiful Charminar city of Hyderabad. It contains a collection paintings, textiles, metallic artifacts, cloaks and carvings from various countries like China, North America, Egypt, Nepal, Europe, Burma and India.

• Government Museum (Chennai) – Also known as Madras Museum, this was established in 1851 in Chennai. The museum exhibits different varieties pertaining to Geology, Zoology, Anthropology and Botany.

These apart, there are innumerable museums all across India of which National Rail Museum ( Delhi), Albert Hall Museum ( Jaipur  ), Calico Textile Museum  ( Ahmedabad), Shankar’s International Dolls’ Museum  ( Delhi ), City palace ( Jaipur ), Napier Museum  ( Kerala ) deserve special mention.  

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