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10 Aug, 2015

President of India inaugurates Conference on ‘Inclusive Museums’

New Delhi, 06-August-2015, (Press Information Bureau) – The President of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated an International Conference on ‘Inclusive Museums’ at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The theme of the Conference is ‘Museums as Civic Spaces’.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said that he was happy to note that India has been chosen as the venue for the Conference in which eminent museologists from India and twenty one other countries are taking part. The choice of India as the venue for the Conference is also most appropriate as India has had a tradition, since ancient times, of having sculptors and painters offering their masterpieces to the Divine at temples. The President said that it has taken more than a century to effect the transformation from royal and feudal museum collections restricted to only a handful of privileged persons to the museum as a public space, open to all, displaying the art and culture of its people at large. Artifacts have been gradually supplemented by contextual stories thus turning the traditional object-based museums into activity-oriented participation centers.

The President said that Rashtrapati Bhavan is creating a story-telling museum within the President’s Estate as an inclusive museum for the people of India. He stated that one major challenge that was faced while conceptualizing the museum was locating the more than 10,000 square meters of exhibition space required within the Rashtrapati Bhavan Estate which had been declared a Grade 1 heritage structure in 2009. This was innovatively handled by having a large part of the proposed museum underground, without disturbing the century-old architecture on the top while maintaining the overall aesthetics and architectural heritage of the Estate.

The second challenge was to weave a fascinating story, which would both captivate and educate the audience, with Rashtrapati Bhavan itself being the story teller. With the help of the latest digital techniques of animation and simulation, Rashtrapati Bhavan as the narrator would outline in detail the planning and construction of the new capital of India, of its transformation from being the symbol of colonial power in pre-independent India to being a metaphor for independent, democratic India – inclusive, happening and aspirational. The rich collections of paintings, arms, furniture and decorative art specimens would supplement the digital story-telling. The museum, when completed next year, would possibly pave the way for making other museums in the country more inclusive.

The President said that the topic of the conference – ‘Museums as Civic Spaces’ is apt as it builds on the notion of the inclusive museum as an inspirational space that is created and recreated on the basis of its context and relevance to diverse stakeholders. He stated that inputs of participants during the conference would be of immense value and shall add to the existing body of knowledge in this area.

Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Shri Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Laureate and founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan; Shri N. K. Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Culture; Dr. Saroj Ghose, former President of International Council of Museum and Museum Advisor to the President of India; Prof. Amareshwar Galla, Executive Director, International Institute for Inclusive Museum and Shri G.S. Rautela, Director General, National Council of Science Museums.