The originals are out of reach for now because of the corona pandemic. Yet one can still see thousands of paintings, sculptures, installations and new work without forming queues or without buying tickets.

One has to make only an online tour of the famous museums on the International Museum Day, which falls on Monday. Museums in city are all set to celebrate the day by organising online events like lectures, exhibitions, and essay and elocution contests.

There are around 13 museums in the city including Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS), Tribal Museum, State Museum, and Regional Museum for Natural History (RMNH), Madhavrao Sapre Smriti Samacharpatra Sangrahalaya, Dushyant Sangrahalaya, Regional Science Museum and National Archive. This theme of the day this year is, ‘Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion’.

Public relations officer, IGRMS, Bhopal Ashok Sharma told Free Press that it is for the first time that all museums across the world are closed due to COVID-19 lockdown.

On the day, IGRMS is going to organise a lecture of Prof Amareshwar Galla, Director, and International Centre for Inclusive Cultural Leadership, Anant University, Ahmedabad (Gujarat). He will speak on, ‘Ethnographic/Anthropology Museums: Agencies for Promoting Inclusion and Diversity’ from 11 am. People from museums across the world will attend the online lecture.

Earlier, the day was celebrated by people from Bhopal and its nearby areas, he said. ‘Pandemic has brought all museums across the world to home,” Sharma remarked. He said people are taking interest in it and moulding themselves according to present situation.

Besides lecture, the museum is organising an essay writing competition on the topic, ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Museums’. Till now, they got entries of 48 people to take part in the contest. Its number may increase because the deadline of contest is 12 midnight, Sharma said.

Similarly, curator of Tribal Museum, Ashok Mishra said they are going to organise online lecture, interview and exhibition, based on Bheel artist Pema Fatya who passed away recently. He said that technology may enhance the number of virtual visitors but it can’t replace physical visit to the museum. The facility of virtual tour will start soon in the museum, Mishra said.

Project Coordinator of Regional Science Centre, Bhopal Krishnendu Choudhury said the centre is going to organise elocution contest on topic ‘Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion’ and ‘Taking Science Museum to the unreachable during the pandemic’ on Facebook live.

He said they are also trying to connect the participants of exhibition, ‘My Own Collections’ through digital medium. About 12 participants will show their collections on Facebook.

He said there is difference between the things which one sees virtually or physically. “The reach of technology can’t take place of physical one,” Choudhury said.

Digitalising in process

Madhavrao Sapre Smriti Samacharpatra Sangrahalaya, Bhopal, is in the process of digitalising its huge collection of rare and invaluable copies of old newspapers and magazines besides books, manuscripts and letters. The museum’s total collection runs into five crore pages, its founder Vijaydutt Shridhar said. According to him, though the cyber space is overflowing with all kinds of documents, what gives the material made available by institutions like Sapre Sangrahalaya a distinct edge is its credibility. He said that in the first phase, the museum has decided to digitalise five lakh pages, of which two lakh have been already converted into digital format. “The work has been halted due to corona lockdown. Once it is lifted, the work would be resumed and after the completion of first phase, the material would be made available online,” he said.

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