The relationship between a museum and the community around it was the central concern of delegates who attended the first day of the Commonwealth Association of Museums conference on Tuesday.
The five-day conference, Rethinking Museums, kicked off at Colaba’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya with a turnout of more than 80 delegates representing Indian and international museums.
“There has to be a connection between the collections of a museum and the people that it works with,” said Vinod Daniel, head of the Cultural Heritage and Science Initiatives Branch of Sydney’s Australian Museum.
“To build this connect, museums can address social problems of the community, by making themselves more relevant to current issues like climate change,” he said.
Former director of Delhi’s Crafts Museum Jyotindra Jain explained how the masses could be included in the activities of a museum.
“As a display strategy, we decided to break out of the custom of having a masterpiece, where the curator decides what the people should focus on,” he said. Instead, with exhibits displayed more objectively, masses can look at artefacts from various perspectives.
The Crafts Museum has programmes where folk artists and craftsmen move in with their equipment and live at the museum for a month giving visitors a glimpse of them creating handicrafts and even place orders.