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‘Rare Artefacts’ exhibition in Kolkata aims to inspire awe

Recording disc features flawless rendering of Tagore’s voice, century-old objects trace evolution of technology.

Tracing over a century of evolution of technology, the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) has curated an exhibition of over 15 artefacts titled ‘Rare Artefacts’ in the city, which includes a vinyl gramophone disc used to record a rendering of poems and songs by Rabindranath Tagore.

It was in 1932 that Tagore had recorded the poem ‘Jokhon hobo babar moto boro’ and the song ‘Tobu monerekho’ in a George Newman disc recording machine that was imported from Germany.

‘First of its kind’

“This artefact was one of the first of its kind machines to be imported from Germany by Hindusthan Musical Products Limited. The equipment, which was in the possession of the company, was donated to the Birla Industrial Technological Museum (BITM) in the 1970s,” Rajib Nath, Curator of the exhibition, said. Mr. Nath pointed out that even after almost eight decades, the flawless rendering of the voice of the Nobel Laureate on the disc being played through an HMV gramophone at the exhibition drew many visitors.

The other exhibits include a hand-operated 16 mm movie projector made by Keystone Co., Boston, United States, in the 1940s, a stereoscopic slide viewer manufactured in Paris between 1900-1908, which provides viewers with three-dimensional view of images.

Jayanata Sengupta, Secretary and Curator of Victoria Memorial Hall, who inaugurated the exhibition last week, said that technology is so pervasive in human lives that people take it for granted. “This exhibition is an attempt to place technology in a historical context. Often, we tend to overlook the evolution of technology around us,” Mr. Sengupta said.

Oldest phones

The other artefacts on display at the exhibition, which is being organised at BITM Kolkata, include some of the oldest telephones, such as Bell’s electromagnetic telephone; wall type CB (common battery) telephone with detachable earpiece; and a pedestal type CB telephone, all dating back to the early 20th century, and a mechanical calculator from the 1960s. The organisers of the exhibition said that almost all of these artefacts are awe-inspiring, making people think that such were the top technological devices only a few decades or a century ago.

“These are technology-based objects that tell us about the evolution of how the technology of images and sound have evolved over not only decades but centuries. Since most of the visitors to BITM are students, apart from generating awe, these exhibits will inculcate curiosity among them as well,” Mr. Nath said.

NCSM, which comes under the Ministry of Culture, aims to popularise science among the masses, and has 27 science centres across the country.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 2:56:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rare-artefacts-exhibition-in-kolkata-aims-to-inspire-awe/article30905130.ece

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