Art

Now, museums are radio collared

A route map The new museum website provides information that is dynamic V. Sreenivasa Murthy  

Now, a considerable part of initiation takes place on the Internet. Our five senses are more used to first, receiving a virtual impetus through appealing images and design and then, if adequately enthused, convert into a real experience. Museums in India, barring a few, haven't had a very strong online presence and even those few examples belong to the recent past. But it would be preposterous to claim that it is because of this reason, our museums despite being replete with magnificent artefacts and a wealth of information, don't get enough visitors. There is a lot ailing our museums.

Www.museumsofindia.org is one step in the direction to bring these repositories of culture a little closer to us. The effort by Sahapedia, a web resource for Indian culture and heritage, aims to map museums in India by creating their database. By sharing information about the museums, their location, highlights of the collection, opening hours, ticket prices, parking facility, the project hopes to get more visitors to these cultural landmarks. The website will also direct the user to other museums in the vicinity.

Now, museums are radio collared
 

As of now, 148 museums in 10 cities - Baroda, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi and NCR, Shillong, Guwahati, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bangalore, and Kolkata - have been covered and the work is on to bring all the museums (approximately 800) under the radar. "The real challenge is to keep the information dynamic and not making it a listing. Maybe if a museum is having an exhibition, it could highlight that. We already have a star attraction, focussing on a rare artefact," says Vaibhav Chauhan, Director, Resource Mobilisation, who is leading the project.

In 2014, Vaibhav had developed an app on the museums of Delhi and realised the project could be expanded. “The scope is huge. There is no central resource and the need of the hour is to connect the real with the virtual,” explained Vaibhav, who is trying to raise funds for the project. The website was launched on May 18 with crowdfunding campaigns preceding it. He is also meeting corporates and trying to make them understand the importance of the world of art and culture. “Wouldn’t it be relevant to someone in the hospitality, travel and tourism industry? Shouldn’t an airlines be excited about it? We need corporates to get into this domain,” asks Vaibhav.

As for the museums, Vaibhav reveals he is surprised by their enthused response. “We have museums writing to us and asking when would they be featured. Particularly museums in Bangalore are very thrilled about it.”

Now, museums are radio collared
 

Not restricting itself to the usual suspects, the project seeks to bring smaller and lesser-known museums under the envelope as well. “We have discovered a few museums along the way like Manjushree Museum of Packaging and Design, NIMHANS Museum of Brain in Bengaluru, Ever Living Museum in Shillong, and Arna-Jharna: The Desert Museum of Rajasthan. They have an entire gallery of brooms. What we wish to do with these smaller museums is to help them with digital marketing for a couple of years,” clears Vaibhav.

Sahapedia has planned it across three phases. While the first phase is seeing collation of data with members travelling to museums in different parts of the country, verifying information and documenting key objects, the second phase will have them experimenting with features and adding multimedia components like videos, maps etc. “In the final phase, we will work with museum shops and give people options to buy online or book tickets online.” The project has been envisioned as a network of museum professionals, a one-stop digital space for the exchange of information, ideas, expertise, and resources and an informal educational space.

The online encylopaedic resource is also using the popular global hashtag #ILoveMuseums to generate interest and trigger a conversation among the younger generation in India and encourage them to write about why they love museums. A series of short interviews of museum professionals and enthusiasts is also to be released soon.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 1:52:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/a-major-museum-mapping-project-is-underway-in-the-country/article18699605.ece

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