There was a time, I remember, going to museums was not at all fun. Decontextualised artefacts were placed in important glass cases, and we had little option, but to venerate these corpses of the past. The main museum in Mumbai was not any different. But that was then.
And this is now.
There is a new life in the museum. There is activity, life, and there is colour. Importantly there is context. There are many things that need doing, yet I am an optimist, by default.
I feel fortunate to have been a part of a session in the conservation section of the museum, to see their processes, to witness how a very old book was carefully conserved, and made available to us to befriend and cherish. That a young lady is working so hard to restore a bronze statue from the Chola dynasty, anywhere between 2300 – 1200 years old, is heartening. Every 2 – 3 months wonderful and new histories are available to me, in my city, is exciting.
Cynicism has its role in social and cultural dialogue, but these are instances when my resolve to be an optimist is buttressed. There’s a separate post brewing, about culture, identity, and acculturation. But, that’s some other day. If we were to patronise museums and museums were able to present the understanding of our world in a meaningful way, perhaps, there would be less strife.
Custodians of our culture have a responsibility towards the society that they maintain the custody for. In times of conflict, even more so.