“How can museums function during a lockdown?” is one question that has been troubling artists and museum-goers worldwide. How to stay relevant, how to impart their knowledge and how to foray into the digital realm are all questions that haunt museum professionals during this crisis.
The rapid onset of the digital era has only cemented the fact that nothing has to stop, even in lieu of a pandemic. We can still experience museums in their full glory, albeit virtually. Looking at some of the creative ways that Indian Museums have come up with to cater to their audiences during these uncertain times, is truly inspirational. While some have opened their doors to digital tours and exhibitions, others have taken to cleaning and sprucing up their collections for future use.
Here’s a quick look at some museums and their varied coping mechanisms to help bring art together in a common virtual space.
Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata
Virtual exhibits of paintings and related historical objects coupled with descriptive slideshows of select exhibitions forms the mantra of this museum. With a plethora of exhibitions displayed on their website, you are in for a compelling and informative experience.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj VastuSangrahalay, Mumbai
Collaborating with the Google Art and Culture app, this museum has taken its online exhibition game to the next level. Beautifully graphic slides on the website, whisk you away on a journey filled with culture-intensive paintings, a children’s museum, a sari exhibit section and a jewellery gallery.
The Partition Museum, Amritsar
Heralding the digital evolution, the world’s first partition museum has gone the interactive way with organising presentations, history webinars and virtual tours where participants can take part and have discussions with each other. It has also shifted all its film screenings and curated tours online.
The National Museum, Delhi
Apart from organising storytelling sessions that are live on their Instagram account, they are also utilising the extra time to catalogue and archive their collections on a digital workspace. Hosting 360 panoramic views of the museum along with conducting exciting activities on their website, the museum officials are really trying to bring about some much-needed collaboration among the arty audience.
Not physical museums but still worth taking a look at…
National Museum New Delhi. Image source : delhitourism.org
The 1947 Partition Archive
A rare and one-of-a-kind initiative, the 1947 Partition Archive is an online repository of recorded accounts of people who were affected by the Partition of British India in the year 1947. These are nearly 9000 audio clips of eye witness accounts all serving to preserve this important chapter of our history.
Another website gaining traction is the Harappa.com which prides itself on being the go-to source for anything related to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. They showcase their findings via slideshows, essays, articles and of course, photographs.
What does the future hold?
Art is renowned for its therapeutic properties, and even in such dire circumstances people need a temporary respite from it all. Immersing yourself in virtual art tours and thematic sessions online will slowly become the new normal. Post pandemic, the museums will have to do all they can to bridge the gap between virtual mediums and physically viewable art as well as cater to the millennials who accomplish everything on a mobile phone and capture their interest. Museums are here to stay, be it on a digital platform or in the flesh!