"I don't think it is a good idea to do a story on a museum. Who comes here since it is an old world. Pick some interesting topic instead of our old museum", says Dr Jaswinder Kaur Sangha, an erudite dean of Home Science College at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), who also heads the responsibility of the Museum of Social History of Rural Punjab that falls under her department.
This was her reply to the Hindustan Times team who approached her office around 2 pm on Tuesday for a detailed story on the museum that showcases the rich culture and traditions of rural Punjab.
Many eminent Punjabi writers and poets have lamented the poor maintenance of the museum the foundation for which was laid on March 1, 1971 by the second vice chancellor of the university, Dr Mahinder Singh Randhawa. The museum was inaugurated by veteran writer, Khushwant Singh on April 26, 1974.
The museum is housed in an ancient building with antique doors and windows that takes the visitors to the old rural world charm.
Different sections unfold the unique pottery, rare musical instruments such as "tumbi" and "chimta", spinning wheels, colourful phulkaris, wedding dresses, old cupboards, kitchen equipment such as "garma", thali, lota and "bata", wooden toys, wooden beds and a lot more that can help orient the contemporary youth towards their native roots. Alas! Everything here is wrapped up in dust which highlights the languidness of the housekeeping team deployed here.
Coming to the visitor's inflow here, it does not paint a very nice picture. According to an official Ravinder Kumar, "Rarely, we get visitors but when we get it are chiefly the local or nearby school groups and sometimes NRIs too".
HT team also came across an NRI Jaswinder Singh Sidhu who was visiting this museum with his father. "The museum is very good but not popular among the youth. Both the university and the government must make sincere efforts to popularize it if it is really enthusiastic to save the dying culture of Punjab", opined Sidhu who is a professor in Australia.
When the official was asked for the feedback register of the museum, he was not even sure if they have one.
Fortunately, his colleague somehow traced it but it could not please the HT Team as the latest feedback was taken in May 2013 and before that it was taken in September 2011.
Dr Nirmal Singh, a noted Punjabi writer and founder of the Punjabi Saath maintains: "Museums carry cultures and history from one generation to another, so why not care for them? For museum at PAU, I would say that latest technology must be introduced here so that youth can also be captivated. Secondly, a website is must and of course a sincere staff to look after it".
"It should not be forgotten that its founder Dr Randhawa had high hopes from this museum. Let us take it to newer heights rather than turning a blind eye towards it", he adds
Timings: 9.00am to 5.00pm
Entry Fee: Rs 10 per person; Rs 5 for students
Photography not allowed