Very soon, your tour guide at Byculla’s Bhau Daji Lad Museum will not be walking beside you, but will be plugged into your ears.
Mumbai’s oldest museum is now set to launch a new portable audio-guide system designed to give visitors an informative tour of the museum, complete with systematic directions guiding them through different galleries.
The audio guide, around 45 minutes long, will be available in English, Hindi and Marathi for just Rs 25 for the average visitor. Schoolchildren will get the audio-guides for free.
“The objective is to make the museum a more interesting experience for local Indian visitors, not just foreigners,” said Tasneem Mehta, honorary director and managing trustee of the museum, who has scripted the guide herself.
Mehta claims the audio-guides have been devised out of the latest technology in the field and will be made available as small bytes online as well as on cell phones.
The museum has bought 100 sets of the guides, and will unveil and test them on June 1 at the first conference of the Commonwealth Association of Museums to be hosted by Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya (CSMVS).
Audio-guides — a set of headphones with a pre-recorded programme — are available in most museums in the West, though very rare in India.
The CSMVS initiated the use of audio-guides six years ago, to take visitors through 37 of their key exhibits.
They are now available in seven languages —English, Hindi, Marathi, French, Spanish, German and Japanese — making them very popular among the foreign tourists.
“They make your visit more interesting, and you don’t need to hire a guide,” said Sabyasachi Mukherjee, director of the CSMVS, who claimed that more local visitors have been buying the Rs 75 audio-guides in the last two years.
The move to technology is just one among the slew of changes being introduced in the city’s museums to upgrade themselves.
Both the Bhau Daji Lad and the CSMVS have undertaken major restoration work in their galleries in the last three years, and
have increased their outreach programmes for locals through frequent travelling exhibitions and seminars.
Both museums plan to introduce a museum shop, café and multi-purpose auditoriums to engage with visitors.