The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya is spearheading an interactive Museum Movement in India, to celebrate the simultaneous validity of various valuable cultural patterns evolved over thousands of years. The Organization is working for national integration, and promotes research and training and inter-institutional networking for salvage and revitalization of vanishing but valuable cultural traditions and highlights the unity and diversity; and organizes exhibitions to present an integrated story of biological evolutions and variations. The IGRMS, through its exhibitions and salvage activities, demonstrates the aesthetic qualities of India's traditional life styles; local knowledge and mores, and caution the people against unprecedented destruction of ecology, environment, local values, customs, etc. There is a paradigm shift in museum education process and IGRMS envisages a definite role for itself in this process.
- For example, the authoritarian voice of the museum personnel / curator as the source of non formal education to the masses is being replaced by the democratic process involving communities as important source of knowledge, with the museum personnel/ curator acting as a facilitator of its dissemination. An overview of the activities of our museum reinforces this argument in a modest way.
- Another corollary of such process is the argument that culture is not a romanticized changeless essence; rather it is an agent, process as well as quest for change. This leads to the concept of culture as a input in sustainable development. Such a linkage ensures development from below or even alternative development.
- An important objective of contemporary education is to create an inclusive society. The role of museum in such an exercise is important by making not only the display accessible to the differently abled persons but also organizing specific events and activities related to the vulnerable sections of society.
- An important aspect of museum education in recent times is education related to environment. With the issue of green house effect looming large, traditional modes of conserving bio-diversity, water management, and other conservation methods are issues we could learn from communities and use the museum as a forum for disseminating them.
- Usually displays are meant to sooth a visitor. However, some displays should be deliberately made to provoke, even shock the visitors. For example, what would be the nature of water crisis in Gurgaon in the next two decades.
- The celebration of cultural diversity and national integration has been an important aspect of museum education. But the challenge in a post-colonial situation is how to display cultural diversity in multiple voices. Some might say that this could go against national integration. But to me, homogenization of multiple voices in the name of integration would result in not only intellectual sterilization of the museum profession, but also would do more dis-service to the cause of national integration by silencing and stifling the dissenting imagination. Could today’s museum professionals live up to the challenge of displaying dissenting imagination? Only posterity will evaluate our success or otherwise in this regard.