In a first-of-its-kind initiative that will help equip museum professionals with best practices in the field, a five-month long training programme for senior and mid-level officials from across India kicked off today with involvement of top experts from the British Museum, led by its renowned director Neil MacGregor.
The ambitious programme launched as part of the Ministry of Culture's museum reform agenda puts a group of Indian museum professionals in touch with one of the best in the world to help groom a cadre, which will in turn pass on the benefits of the hands on training to others.
According to Minister of Culture Kumari Selja, this programme will provide a much-needed push to the growth of well-trained professionals at museums, which have suffered majorly due to shortage of skilled professionals and their failure to keep pace with international standards.
The Leadership Training Programme for Indian Museums kicked off today and in the first phase involves 20 Indian professionals from 12 museums across the country.
A group of top-class British museum professionals are in India to helm the sessions, and the shortlisted Indian professionals will get first-hand training from them. MacGregor, respected across the world as one of the best authorities in his field, is also part of the group.
Selja said the public image and performance of Indian museums has suffered and lack of training is hampering their management.
"There is a high vacancy rate due to severe shortage of museum professionals, and for this reason museums are in a state of neglect, being managed many times by untrained staff," she rued.
She pointed out the need for training and sensitising all staff members of museums to the sensitivity of the collections housed by them.
"Many times when I visit places, our museum managers out of their enthusiasm show me antiquities that need to be handled very very carefully. But anyone down to the peon level in a museum needs to know and respect the importance of the place he or she works in, and should be able to transmit this respect to the visitors," she said.