Kerala's museum movement strives to focus on revolutionary concepts to attract people

Hill Palace
Hill Palace | Photo: Shutterstock Images

Kochi: Keen on becoming the country's museum hub, Kerala is on the course of unveiling heritage repositories that chart a thematic narrative of global appeal and function as interactive spaces attracting the youth.

The state's new museum movement strives to challenge old-fashioned norms about conservation of cultures, replacing them with revolutionary concepts that are gaining ground in other parts of the world, a senior government official said here on Thursday.

A key element of the New Museum Movement is to promote mini-museums across the state in a big way, said Dr Venu V, Additional Chief Secretary, who oversees the departments of Archaeology, Archives and Museums among other responsibilities.

"While certain historical occasions are momentous, they can be of special sentiment to the local people. Building museums on such themes give the residents of the area a sense of ownership and pride," he noted at a media conference here.

The initiatives have been anchored by Keralam Museum, an organisation formed to build and modernise museums.

In fact, February 12 marks a major chapter for the 2011-founded project by unveiling two key theme-based repositories that showcase heritage of regional significance but weave narratives in ways that capture the imagination of people across continents.

The Hill Palace Museum in suburban Tripunithura will open galleries that throw fresh light on the erstwhile ruling dynasty of Kochi, while the Bastion Bungalow in the city's western pocket will lend a distinct perspective to Kerala's mercantile trading network from the ancient to modern period.

Venu, who was Director-General with National Museum in Delhi, said the twin endeavour takes forward the state government's decade-old mission of converting museums to vibrant cultural spaces of present-day relevance.

"It's time we came out of the notion that museums are places where history sleeps. They should be able to converse with visitors, more so youngsters," he said.

This was the foremost goal when the government set up Keralam Museum, Venu recalled.

Officially called The Interactive Museum of the Cultural History of Kerala, the autonomous body strives to ensure international standards across the state's museums by modernising them professionally.

In the past five years, the nodal agency has lent momentum to its activities by initiating 31 projects, 11 of which have been realised.

The 54-acre Hill Palace is the state's biggest museum, 15 km east of Kochi and open to the public since 1986.

Its galleries, known for their historical, architectural and botanical sections, are now poised to lend a thematic and interactive experience after carrying out a Rs 2.37-crore modernisation programme with central assistance.

Bastion Bungalow at Fort Kochi will, from February 12, function as the Ernakulam District Heritage Museum (DHM).

With the state's Department of Archaeology spending Rs 3.58 crore, Delhi-based Eka Archiving Services was assigned the responsibility of curating the permanent exhibition and to prepare a blueprint to conserve the historic building.

The Bungalow's galleries will visually explain the interventions of the colonial Portuguese, Dutch and the British powers into the political domain of Kerala's kingdoms.

A District Heritage Museum (DHM) was opened in Palakkad on Thursday.

The Rs 5.66-crore institution, under the Archaeology department, is housed at the Mani Iyer Hall, Kalpathi and focuses on the region's agriculture, arts and music, he said.

Besides these three, Keralam Museum has completed eight assignments, the official said.

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