Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

History gets a makeover

Disguised Akbar with Tansen visit Swami Haridas, circa A.D. 1760. Source: National Museum, New Delhi.

Veenu Sandhu, History gets a makeover at Delhi’s National Museum, Business Standard, 4 July 2015

With guided walks, theme-based galleries and performances, the National Museum in Delhi is reinventing itself.

Next to the ticket counter of the National Museum in Delhi sits “Shiva Vamana”, or Shiva the dwarf, a fifth-century sculpture. Considered a rare piece of sculptural art, the figure depicts child-like innocence on the face of a rotund Shiva. A small, almost imperceptible, smile plays on the lips of the dwarf god. It’s almost as though it is pleased to witness the activity around it.

It’s Wednesday morning. Ordinarily, the museum would be practically empty expect for the staff and some foreign tourists. Today, the lobby, where the Shiva statue sits, is bustling with visitors: parents with their children, young men and women, elderly couples.

The National Museum has undergone a transformation of sorts in the last year or two. Some of its galleries have been renovated and new ones have opened; guided walks are held twice a day free of cost; the audio guide, available in English, French and Dutch, is being updated; monthly talks on art, culture and history are being organised (free and open to public); volunteers from across age groups and professions are being trained to take people through the museum; and a number of temporary exhibitions are being curated.

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