Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya in New Delhi on April 14, buying the first ticket to the museum dedicated to the former PMs of the country. The Sangrahalaya, located at the iconic Teen Murti complex, was inaugurated as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav — a 75-week celebration launched to mark 75 years of Independence.
The museum will become the source of inspiration for the youth who will be able to witness the hardships each PM faced and how they overcame them to lay the foundations of new India, the PM said. He added that the museum will reflect the shared heritage of each government.
The project to build the new museum faced stiff opposition when the government announced its plan in 2018. The Congress alleged that the new museum was an attempt to dilute the legacy of India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, a charge rejected by the Centre.
What are the key features of Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya?
The museum building integrates the Teen Murti Bhawan in New Delhi, designated as Block I, with the newly-constructed Block II. The total area of the two blocks is over 15,600 square metres. There are 43 galleries in the Sangrahalaya.
The logo of the Sangrahalaya, meanwhile, shows hands holding the dharma chakra, symbolising the nation and democracy.
Officials have claimed that the museum design incorporates sustainable and energy conservation practices and no tree was felled or transplanted during the course of work on the project.
The museum has a capacity of about 4,000. For Indians, an entry ticket will cost ₹100 through online booking and ₹110 for offline. Foreigners will be charged ₹750.
What will be on display?
From the freedom struggle to the framing of the Constitution, the museum will have displays that showcase stories of how the respective Prime Ministers steered the nation.
Personal items, gifts and memorabilia like medals, commemorative stamps, speeches of PMs and anecdotal representations of ideologies will be on display at the museum. The families of the former Prime Ministers were contacted for information about them.
The Sangrahalaya will also include the Nehru Museum. Officials have said it has been upgraded with a technologically advanced display to showcase the life and contributions of the country’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru. Several gifts received by him from all over the world are on display for the first time.
The Sangrahalaya will use holograms, virtual reality, augmented reality, multi-touch, multimedia, interactive kiosks, computerised kinetic sculptures, smartphone applications, interactive screens, experiential installations etc, to make the exhibition content interactive.
The Centre has said content displayed at the museum has been collated from information collected from Prasar Bharti, Doordarshan, Film Division, Sansad TV, Ministry of Defence, and Indian and foreign media houses.
What is the controversy surrounding the Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya?
The Teen Murti Bhawan, the site of the new museum, was the official residence of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister. The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) was set up in his memory on its premises as an autonomous institution under the Union Culture Ministry.
A political controversy erupted after the Centre announced its plan to set up a museum for former Prime Ministers at the complex. At the 43rd annual general meeting of NMML in 2018, the NMML Society considered a proposal for the PMs museum on the campus. The proposal was cleared by the then Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The Congress leaders opposed the government’s decision and called it an attempt to dilute the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru. The Centre, however, maintained that the move was not to undermine the legacy of the first PM.
Former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh even wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he urged him to leave the Teen Murti complex “undisturbed”.
Raising concerns over the government’s decision to change the “nature and character” of the Nehru memorial, the former PM and senior Congress leader said, “I recall that during the six-year tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji as prime minister, there was absolutely no attempt to change the nature and character of the NMML and the Teen Murti Complex in any way. But sadly that it seems to be part of the agenda of Government of India now,” Mr. Singh noted.
He added, “Let us respect this sentiment and keep Teen Murti as a memorial to our first prime minister Pandit Nehru. This way we will be respecting both history and heritage.”
“Jawaharlal Nehru belongs not just to the Congress but to the entire nation. It is in this spirit that I have written to you,” Mr. Singh wrote in the letter.
The then NMML Director Shakti Sinha, however, defended the government’s decision and questioned the Congress’ motive.
He claimed that the museum will in no way undermine the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru.
Despite objections by the Congress, the foundation stone for the new museum for Prime Ministers was laid at the complex in October 2018. After delays due to the pandemic, the project opened its doors in April 2022.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya in New Delhi on April 14 and said that the museum will become a source of inspiration for the youth who will be able to witness the hardships each PM faced and how they overcame them to lay the foundations of new India.
- The Congress leaders opposed the government’s decision and called it an attempt to dilute the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru, as the Teen Murti Bhawan, the site of the new museum, was the official residence of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister.
- Former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh even wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he urged him to leave the Teen Murti complex “undisturbed”.