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Museums

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MUSEUMS: THEIR ROLES AND IMPORTANCE In this section of our presentation we will discuss the roles and importance of museums in relation to art and the society in general. Museums were an early form of public education intended to enlighten the general population. The creation of the Public Museum was an expression of the 18th century enlightenment which generated enthusiasm for equality of opportunity in learning. According to the declaration made in the Copenhagen 10th General Assembly of the International Council of Museums held in 1974, a museum is defined as “a non - profit making permanent institution, in the service of the society and its development and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, communicates and exhibits, researches for the purpose of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of men and his environment". Generally speaking, museums collect objects of significance that comply with their mission statement for conservation and display. Many assert that the primary function of art museums ought to be research and scholarship, staunch in their pursuit of objectivity, while others insist that it is about pluralism, the fortification of diversity in a pleased and intrigued public. Art Museums, not only because of the scientific and humanistic disciplines practiced in them, such as conservation, art history, archaeology etc., are seen as preservers of the community’s official cultural memory. Consequently, it can be argued that museums should be placed at the centre of the modern relations between government and culture. As a powerful social metaphor and as an instrument of historical representation, museums are crucial barometers of social changes. The need for museums in a society directly correlates with the roles that they play in bringing about positive impacts in that society. One of the ways in which museums make their importance evident is through the acquisition and preservation of artifacts. ACQUISITION AND PRESERVATION: The acquisition, conservation, research and display of different artistic objects serves as one of the major responsibilities of Museum officials. Collections of different types of art are acquired through various methods, such as donation, field ,collection, transfer from another organization, or purchase. Art museums, for example, generally acquire fewer items than cultural history museums, because art works tend to be more expensive. Museums that maintain collections hold them in trust for the benefit of society and its development. They have the duty to acquire, preserve and promote their collections as a contribution to safeguarding a country’s heritage. Their collections are a significant public inheritance, have a special position in law and are protected by international legislation. Inherent in this public trust is the notion of stewardship that includes rightful ownership, permanence, documentation, accessibility and responsible disposal. CARE OF COLLECTIONS: 1. The museum establishes and applies policies to ensure that its collections (both permanent and temporary) and associated information, properly recorded, are available for current use and will be passed on to future generations in as good and safe a condition as practicable, having regard to current knowledge and resources. 2. Professional responsibilities involving the care of the collections are assigned to persons with appropriate knowledge and skill or who are adequately supervised.

3. Museum collections are documented according to accepted professional standards. Such documentation includes a full identification and description of each item, its associations, provenance, condition, treatment and present location. 4. Careful attention is given to the development of policies to protect the collections during armed conflict and other human-made or natural disasters. 5. The museum exercises control to avoid disclosing sensitive personal or related information and other confidential matters when collection data is made available to the public. 6. Preventive conservation is an important element of museum policy and collections care. It is an essential responsibility of members of the museum profession to create and maintain a protective environment for the collections in their care, whether in store, on display, or in transit. 7. The museum carefully monitors the condition of collections to determine when an object or specimen may require conservation-restoration work and the services of a qualified conservatorrestorer. The principal goal is the stabilisation of the object or specimen. Following these procedures not only guarantees that the acquired objects remain in good condition but also helps in a way in preserving the history of art through the processes of proper documentation and conservation. Care and preservation of heritage is viewed as being an important means to ensure the past is learnt from and our future generations appreciate the way we live now compared to previous generations. Crucially, however, it is also deemed important for its own sake. It is vital that historic artefacts be kept safe even if a few of them are very rarely displayed to the public. The museum therefore has an important ‘hoarding’ role and can rightfully be termed as ‘society’s attic’. EDUCATION: Today in the modern world responsibility of the Museums have much wider role for the visitors. The visitors not only look at the objects and admire and enjoy them, but also learn from them and pass them to the succeeding generations. In a Museum, art objects which are most rare, most beautiful and most antique can be seen and studied freely. Rarity is not the only consideration; their workmanship, historical association, connection with some important discoveries, links in the development of human culture, etc. are also taken Into account. Whatever is the collection, educating the public through various educational activities, is now regarded as one of the primary functions of a Museum. Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of learning in India was originally a river with seven streams. She was considered as a celestial river, descended from the sky. During the Vedic age, this celestial river with her varied Potentialities identified as one with Vag ”the Goddess of Speech”. The combined form came to be known as one with tag Devi’ and was taken as the personification of wisdom and eloquence and was praised as ‘Muse’. The first image of Vag Devi, also known as Saraswati with a temple at ‘Dhara’ was installed by the Paramara King Boja in 12th Century A.D. and there by he named the Temple as a Temple of Learning, “Saraswati Mandir”. Thus it is evident from the very beginning that museums had intricate relation with education in India. This tradition never ceased and even today few museums in Rajasthan and Gujarat are called “Saraswati Bhandar”. MEANING OF MUSEUM EDUCATION:A Museum is not an educational institution in the formal sense of the word. Museum education is the education in its broader sense. Eilean Hooper Green Hill (1988) considers museum in the context

of education, as an institution that can offer an educational experience across a wide range of variables and in relation to a wide range of institutions and organizations. The meaning of museum education is that museums provide a learning situation in which the visitors experience learning. Learning in museums generally involves a visitor or a group of visitors attending to an object, a display, label, person, element or some mental construct of these. The information a visitor receives during a museum visit tends to bear a ‘contextual map’. The museum visit represents a collection of experiences rather than a single unitary phenomenon. Any information obtained during the museum visit is likely to include social related, attitude related, cognitive related and sensory related association. These associations will become embedded in memory altogether with the result that anyone facet of these experiences can facilitate the recall of the entire experience. The manner in which museums provide learning situations is quite different from those provided by formal educational institutions like schools. a) Museum provides free choice learning situations devoid of verbal instructions, assessment and other types of controls that exist in schools. b) Learning in museums is a spontaneous process, a personal exeperience not imposed on the visitor. c) Museum provide open communication of ideas, concepts and information involving exploration and discovery, d) The authenticity as revealed by real objects and phenomena exhibited in museums, communicates with a powerful clarity to visitors. Museums are compelling aesthetic environments: they engage the senses, stimulate, inspires and sometimes even overwhelm. A museum makes the whole world, the past, the present and the imagined; accessible to the visitors. Thus Museums are a source of intellectual stimulation and entertainment. Exhibition halls, properly arranged secondary collections, labels, guided tours, traveling exhibitions, school class visits, loan services to the schools, training courses to the teachers, illustrated lectures, motion pictures, film trips and publications, etc. are the various means which constitute the educational activities in a museum.

CULTURAL HERITAGE: India, because of its complicated and ancient culture, is rich in tangible and intangible cultural heritage. In India many communities live with their cultural knowledge, traditions, rituals, oral expressions and historical heritage. With the advent of a new world order, i.e., urbanization, traditional knowledge about culture is not being passed on to future generation for many reasons, such as families moving to urban areas for better employment. These community members are far from their roots, traditions and family arts and crafts. And thus newer generations of particular communities are losing their interest in their traditional art, crafts and other cultural skills. Museums can play the role of a mediator or communication bridge to fill the gaps between the generations and to share the community knowledge on a larger platform with different communities and a diverse range of visitors. For example, the National Museum, New Delhi, has an extensive collection of Indian textiles of the different states, like bandhani work from Rajasthan, banarasi textiles from Banaras, Pulkari from Punjab, Mochikari from Gujarat, Kanth from Bengal, Pichhawai from Nathdwara and Chamba rumal

from Himachal Pradesh. Sanskriti Museum, New Delhi, and the National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum (Crafts Museum, New Delhi) have collections of different types of social and cultural objects related to the different communities of India. These museums are known for organizing a broad range of programmes on the traditional art of terracotta with traditional potters, to cater to different community members as well as for regular visitors to share in social, cultural and traditional knowledge. Indian museums have a wide range of traditional, religious and cultural arts and crafts in their collections; some of these collections are the living heritage of certain communities. These communities have used these artifacts in the past to pass on knowledge and skills generation by generation in families by the elders. Sometimes communities find themselves emotionally attached to the museum artifacts. A beautiful example in this case is in the National Museum. The museum houses various Buddha replicas as a part of its collection and every month many Buddhist people come to the gallery and pray, especially on the occasion on Budha purnima. Hundreds of visitors from Buddhist communities come to see the Buddha replicas. This is an example where a museum does not make any special efforts to connect with a community but an object itself connects to and welcomes the community in the museum.

Relation Between Art And Art Museums:

The relationship between art and art museums is one that has existed over a span of many decades. One of the sole purposes of art museums is the accumulation and exhibition of ancient or contemporary art. These exhibitions are one of the ways through which museums can spread knowledge about their artistic acquisitions. On the other hand, aged artistic objects such as paintings or sculptures find sanctuary in these art museums. These museums serve as a place of protection, a neutral space, a safety net for art from natural or man-made forces that would seek to destroy them. While priceless ancient artifacts elevate the prestige and popularity of a museum, the opposite holds true in case of contemporary art. Most contemporary artists rely on the reputation of an art museum for their artistic work to gain notoriety. However, regardless of the value of the acquisitions stored under its roof, it is the presence of these artistic collections that makes an art museum, a museum. Art museums also play a most important role in bringing together art from diverse geographical locations as well as eras. These assorted art showcases the history of evolution of different cultures, various aspects of human living including their diversity, lineage, race and so on. In most instances, the technological innovations of particular time periods are also reflected in these works of art. There can be no argument about the fact that museums are an excellent place to learn about art as it relates to history. Through the processes of careful conservation and detailed documentation of art, museums play a notable part in preserving the history of art of any particular culture or country. In this way, museums make the history of art accessible to the general public by preserving and displaying them while the objects of art themselves act as the main crowd-puller and increases the popularity of a museum COMMUNITY: UNITY

Museums are community based institutions. Museums are inclusive to all members of society.They serve their constituents through active involvement in their everyday lives. Museums and the Promotion of Unity For a people to live in peace and happiness, there must be unity. Museums do promote unity in the society by using their resources to ensure understanding and appreciation for the various groups and cultures that exist in that society. Peace is essential for happiness and joy in the family, in the community, in the society, in the nation and in the world. Our world is troubled in many ways today and peace is threatened so often because people do not understand their neighbours. Conflict resolution and reconciliation are essential elements for the attainment of sustainable peace and unity. Museums should use their collections in promoting a better understanding of the collective heritage of the people of a country or a region, which will have the effect of fostering the commonality of those things that unite the nation and its people. They can, through their programmes and activities, reconcile the various interests in the society for the collective good of the nation; they can use their unique positions to reach the conscience of the nation and to foster dialogue, and they can become rallying points for the country in ensuring that peace is enthroned. On a broader perspective, museums can promote cultural diplomacy that will engender greater understanding between peoples and nations. A properly packaged cultural diplomacy programme will promote the best of India to the wider world and foster a free flow of knowledge and a wholesome exchange of cultural materials and ideas with other nations of the world. This programme will also create a sense of pride and purpose among the citizens of our country, who will better appreciate the fact that they too have a contribution to make to encourage peace, unity and understanding in the communities of the larger world.

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