"There is only one justification, that is to make it a means of education. Then it becomes a museum. If you make a museum, it is a historical sampling of all that has been done. It serves to give you a historical knowledge of things. But a museum is not something beautiful in itself, far from it!"
(Complete Works of the Mother, Vol. 05, Questions and Answers )
On the occasion of International Museum Day, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society in collaboration with Southern Regional Centre, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India organized a Symposium on the topic ‘Museums, Sustainability and Wellbeing: Integrated Approach’ on 18th May, 2023. Objective of this symposium is to address important issues related to museums, well-being and sustainability. Eminent scholars, Dr. R.A. Sharma (Former Professor, School of Studies in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Jiwaji University, Gwalior), Dr. J. N. Sinha (Former Associate Professor of History, University of Delhi, Delhi), Ms. Gayatri Panda, State Nodal Officer, Southern Regional Office, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, and Dr. Anil Aniket (Former Deputy Director, Centre for Museology & Conservation, University of Rajasthan, India) shared important views on museums, sustainability and well-being.
Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry welcomed the participants and said about the importance of International Museum Day which was started by ICOM in 1977 as a unique moment for the International Museum Community “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation, and peace among peoples.” Speaking on museums, sustainability, and well-being, he emphasized that museums are key contributors to the well-being and to the sustainable development of communities.
Dr. Tripathy highlighted the vision of the Mother on Museum "There is only one justification, that is to make it a means of education. Then it becomes a museum. If you make a museum, it is a historical sampling of all that has been done. It serves to give you historical knowledge of things. But a museum is not something beautiful in itself, far from it!" He also shared information about the beautiful experience of the Mother at the Guimet Museum in Paris ‘there are two mummies. Nothing remains in one; but in the other, the spirit of the form has remained very conscious, conscious to such a point that you can have a contact of consciousness with it.’ Sri Aurobindo in his monumental work ‘Letters on Poetry and Art’ also speaks about the intellectual museum.
As highlighted in the ICOM Resolution “On Sustainability and the Implementation of Agenda 2030, Transforming our World” (Kyoto, 2019), all museums have a role to play in shaping and creating sustainable futures, and they can do this through educational programs, exhibitions, community outreach, and research. Museums also play an important role in shaping sustainable development goals including Global Health and well-being, Climate Action, and Life on Land
Dr. R.A. Sharma, former Professor, School of Studies in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Jiwaji University, Gwalior spoke on ‘Sustainability & Wellbeing.’ He mentioned the significance of Museum Studies in shaping well-being and sustainability. He informed me about different kinds of museums and their significance in enriching the knowledge community. He discussed the basic challenges in the Museum sector including, location, display methods, lack of modern technology, insufficient budget, and lack of manpower which can be considered the major challenges. He suggested that policy implementation, research, and educational methodology, conservation initiatives, and integrated programs can be useful for the sustainability and well-being of the museums.
Dr. J. N. Sinha, Former Associate Professor of History, University of Delhi, spoke on Museums and Social Prospects: Challenges and Opportunities. He said that museums are the carriers of our past accomplishments. He explained the views of the mother about the role of museums in shaping the educational aspects which are rich in heritage and cultural ethos. Dr. Sinha emphasized that in the age of the rapid growth of Science and technology, there is an urgent need for the preservation and promotion of culture including the museum sector as well. He gave examples of the museums in western countries and the sustainable measures undertaken for well-being and sustainability. He suggested that museums should try to bring the intellectual heritage including the indigenous practices which are diverse in nature as well. Dr. Sinha emphasized that the latest technology must be used for the virtual presentation of the museums including publicity and awareness.
Ms. Gayatri Panda, State Nodal Officer for Puducherry, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India spoke on Sustainable Development & Promotion of Museums. She highlighted the initiatives of accredited youth-focused courses, urged YUVA Tourism members to visit museums, and promoted SD & PRASAD-sponsored programs for museum development, introduced initiatives for staff skill development and the execution of interesting engagement activities in collaboration with like-minded institutions and scholars. Ms. Panda mentioned the various initiatives of the Ministry of Tourism for the development of Tourism, Community Culture, Museums and Sustainability.
Dr. Anil Aaniket, Former Deputy Director, the Centre for Museology & Conservation, University of Rajasthan, India spoke on the topic ‘The Ideals of Learning Through Integrated Approach and Case Study of the Establishment of new museums’ and said that museums and sustainability are synonymous. In the present scenario, museums are losing their basic spirit. Museums have become monotonous. One cannot feel the artifact displayed there. He suggested that Museums should be dynamic and aggressive in their approach to attract the younger generations, and new technologies IoT and AI need to be implemented.Virtual reality and Artificial Intelligence can be of great help. Dr. Aniket presented the case study of the Museum on Mahatma Gandhi and its implementation mechanism in spreading the relationship between the Museum and education.
At the end of the program, important discussions were held on the topic including museums and internships, the role of educational institutions in the proliferation of museums, the relevance of museums in national life, museum education as a compulsory subject in the curriculum and the virtual presentation of museums. Initiatives undertaken by Sri Aurobindo Society on the redesign and development of museums and the promotion of museum education in academic institutions were also discussed. It was discussed that strong networking with institutions, qualitative research projects and innovative program activities can be an important tool for the promotion of museum education.