New Delhi, May 18: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the International Museum Expo 2023 at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi today. He also inaugurated a virtual walkthrough of the upcoming National Museum at the North and South Blocks. The Prime Minister also took a walkthrough of Techno Mela, Conservation Lab and the Exhibitions showcased on the occasion. The International Museum Expo is being organized as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav to celebrate the 47th International Museum Day with the theme of the year ‘Museums, Sustainability and Well Being’.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister congratulated everyone on the occasion of International Museum Day. Highlighting the significance of the occasion, the Prime Minister mentioned that while India is celebrating Amrit Mahotsav on 75 years of independence, the different chapters of history are becoming alive with the inclusion of technology on the occasion of the International Museum Expo. He said when we enter a museum we engage with the past and the museum presents fact and evidence-based reality and it provides inspiration from the past and also gives a sense of duty towards the future. He said that today’s theme ‘Sustainability and Wellbeing’ highlights the priorities of today’s world and makes the event even more relevant. The Prime Minister expressed the hope that today’s efforts will make the young generation better acquainted with their heritage.
The Prime Minister also mentioned his visit to the Museum before arriving at the venue for today’s event and praised the planning and execution efforts which helped in creating a huge impact on the mind of the visitor. The Prime Minister expressed confidence that today’s occasion will be a huge turning point for the world of museums in India.
Underlining that a lot of the heritage of the land was lost during the period of slavery which lasted for hundreds of years when ancient manuscripts and libraries were burnt to the ground, the Prime Minister emphasized that this was not just a loss to India but the heritage of the entire world. He lamented the lack of efforts after independence towards reviving and preserving the long-lost heritage of the land where the lack of awareness among citizens created an even bigger impact. Recalling the ‘Panch Pran’ or the five resolutions taken by the country during the Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal, the Prime Minister emphasized ‘Taking pride in our heritage’ and underlined that a new cultural infrastructure of the country is being developed. In these efforts, the Prime Minister continued, one can find the history of India’s fight for independence as well as the thousand-year-old heritage of the country. He informed that the Government is running a special campaign to conserve local and rural museums along with the heritage of every state and segment of society. The Prime Minister also mentioned that the development of ten special museums is underway to immortalize the contributions of the tribal communities in India’s freedom struggle, which will be one of the most unique initiatives in the world to provide a glimpse of tribal diversity. Giving examples of conserving the heritage of the land, the Prime Minister mentioned Dandi Path where Mahatma Gandhi marched during the Salt Satyagraha and the memorial built at the spot where he broke the salt law. He also mentioned the redevelopment of Mahaparinirvana Sthal of Dr B R Ambedkar into a National Memorial at 5, Alipore Road in Delhi along with the development of Panch Teerth related to his life, in Mhow where he was born, in London where he lived, in Nagpur where he took initiation, and the Chaitya Bhoomi in Mumbai where his Samadhi exists today. He also gave examples of the Museum at Sardar Patel’s Statue of Unity, Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab, Govind Guru Ji’s memorial in Gujarat, the Man Mahal Museum in Varanasi and the Museum of Christian Art in Goa. He also touched upon the Pradhan Mantri Sangrahalaya dedicated to the journey and contributions of all the former Prime Ministers of the country in Delhi and requested the guests to visit this museum once.
The Prime Minister said when a country starts conserving its heritage it gives rise to closeness with other countries also. He gave examples of holy relics of Lord Buddha which were conserved over the generations and now uniting followers of Lord Buddha all over the world. He mentioned sending four holy relics to Mongolia on the last Buddha Poornima, the arrival of the holy relics from Sri Lanka to Kushinagar. Similarly, the legacy of St. Ketevan of Goa is safe with India and remembered the enthusiasm in Georgia when the relics were sent there. “Our heritage becomes the harbinger of world unity”, he said.
The Prime Minister suggested that the museums should become active participants in conserving the resources for the coming generations. He suggested that museums can conserve and present the signs of many calamities that the earth has faced, and presentation of the changing face of the earth can also be done.
Mentioning the gastronomic section of the Expo, the Prime Minister talked about the growing profile of Ayurveda and Shree Anna Millets due to India’s efforts. He suggested that new museums can come up about the journey of Shree Anna and other grains.
The Prime Minister said that all this can be possible when preserving things of historical significance becomes the nature of the country. He elaborated how this can be achieved. He suggested that every family create a family museum of their own family. He said that simple things of today will be an emotional property for the coming generations. He exhorted schools and other institutions to create their own museums. He also asked cities to create city museums. This will create huge historical wealth for the future generations.
He noted that Museums are becoming a career option for the youth. He said that we should not view these youth as mere museum workers but as youth associated with subjects like history and architecture that can become the medium of global cultural action. He said that these youth will be very effective in taking the nation’s heritage abroad and learning from them about their past.
The Prime Minister mentioned the collective challenges of smuggling and appropriation of artefacts and said that countries with ancient cultures like India have been struggling with this for hundreds of years. He pointed out that many artefacts have been taken out of the country in an unethical manner before and after independence and urged everyone to work together to put an end to such crimes. He also expressed delight that various countries have started returning India’s heritage amidst the increasing reputation of India in the world. He gave examples of the statue of Maa Annapurna stolen from Banaras, the statue of Mahishasurmardini stolen from Gujarat, the idols of Nataraja built during the Chola Empire, and the sword decorated with the name of Guru Hargobind Singh Ji. The Prime Minister informed that around 240 ancient artefacts have been recovered and brought back to India in the last 9 years in contrast to less than 20 for several decades after independence. He also stated that the smuggling of cultural artefacts from India has also reduced considerably in these 9 years. Shri Modi urged art connoisseurs around the world, especially those associated with museums, to further increase cooperation in this field. “There should not be any such artwork in any museum of any country, which has reached there in an unethical way. We should make this a moral commitment for all the museums”, the Prime Minister said. The Prime Minister concluded by saying “We will conserve our heritage and will also create a new legacy”.
Union Minister for Culture, Shri G. Kishan Reddy, Union Ministers of State for Culture, Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal and Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi, and Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, Mr. Manuel Rabaté were among those present on the occasion.
The International Museum Expo is being organized as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav to celebrate the 47th International Museum Day (IMD). The IMD theme for this year is ‘Museums, Sustainability and Well Being’. The Museum Expo is designed to initiate a holistic conversation on Museums with museum professionals to enable them to evolve as cultural centers that play a pivotal role in India’s cultural diplomacy.
During the programme, the Prime Minister inaugurated a virtual walkthrough of the upcoming National Museum at the North and South Blocks. The Museum is a comprehensive effort to highlight and showcase historical events, personalities, ideas and achievements related to India’s past that have contributed to the making of India’s present.
The Prime Minister also unveiled the Mascot of the International Museum Expo, the Graphic Novel – A Day at the Museum, the Directory of Indian Museums, the Pocket Map of Kartavya Path, and Museum Cards.
The Mascot of the International Museum Expo is a contemporized version of the Dancing Girl made of wood in the Chennapatnam art style. The Graphic Novel portrays a group of children visiting the National Museum where they learn about the different career opportunities that are available at the museum. The Directory of India Museums is a comprehensive survey of Indian museums. The Pocket Map of the Kartavya Path highlights the various Cultural Spaces and institutions and it also traces the history of the iconic pathways. Museums Cards are a set of 75 cards with illustrated facades of iconic museums across the country, and is an innovative way to introduce museums to people of all ages and each card holds brief information about Museums.
The programme witnessed the participation of international delegations from cultural centers and museums from across the world.