Museums tell us about time, our history, culture and traditions. There was a time when a trip to the city museum was considered a family activity on Sundays and vacations. Times have changed, things have changed. International Museum Day was marked across the world on May 18. However, when it comes to the three major museums of the district, the footfall of visitors has only dropped. This is a fact known to the authorities but little is being done to attract visitors.
However, prominent locals want museums to spread awareness among residents. An art critic, MS Aulakh, said, “Educational boards should make it obligatory for schools and colleges to take regular trips to museums as this will publicise them through ‘word of mouth’. Museums should also be open during weekends.”
Noted poet Surjit Patar feels museums should also be open for organising different events such as exhibitions and stakeholders should make creative efforts to promote them.
Hindustan Times takes a look at the state of affairs at Museum of Social History of Rural Punjab, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh War Museum and Memorial Museum of Maharaja Duleep Singh.
Museum of Social History of Rural Punjab, PAU
Days open: Monday to Friday
Timings: 9am to 5pm
Ticket: Rs 10 for adult, Rs 5 for students and children
Upcoming plans: Museum to be surrounded by traditional trees
Located behind the home science college of Punjab Agricultural University, this museum was the brainchild of the second vice-chancellor of the varsity, MS Randhawa. Its foundation was laid on March 1, 1971, and was finally inaugurated by writer Khushwant Singh on April 26, 1974. The aim was to showcase the rural culture and heritage; sadly, many locals are unaware of its existence.
“We only see school groups here; hardly any tourists come by. You may keep flooding the museum with more artefacts but it makes no sense until it is promoted,” says Swaranjeet Singh,student.
Though it is a well-maintained museum and has incorporated a traditional well (‘tinda wala khuh’) and an age-old traditional flour mill (‘karat’) outside the museum building in the last one year, the museum is still unable to attract an ideal footfall.
Museum lovers in the city and students feel that this is due to a lack of social media presence, which could be an important platform to promote it.
“We only see school groups here; hardly any tourists come by. You may keep flooding the museum with more artefacts but it makes no sense until it is promoted,” said Swaranjeet Singh, a student. He added that there was no facility of a canteen here and photography was prohibited.
Jasmail Singh, museum incharge and the only guide, also confirmed, “We mainly get school groups and some NRIs during the winter but if it is promoted in the right manner, including that by Punjab tourism, it can become popular.”
Maharaja Ranjeet Singh War Museum
Days open: Daily, including weekends and public holidays
Timings: 9am to 5pm
Ticket: Rs 20 for adults and Rs 10 for children
Upcoming plans: Renovation of museum galleries
“Educational boards should make it obligatory for schools and colleges to take regular trips to museums for ‘word of mouth’ publicity. Museums should also be open during weekends,” saysMS Aulakh, art critic.
This museum is located on GT Road near Jalandhar Bypass. It opened its doors in 1991 and was inaugurated by Capt Amarinder Singh in 1991. It was the brainchild of the government along with directorate of defence services welfare. It also throws light on many military wars between India and Pakistan. Sources said this was another museum that hardly saw any visitors for days together. However, museum secretary Col Jasvir Boparai (retd), added that it attracted nearly 40,000 visitors each year.
Like PAU’s museum, this museum too has no presence on the social media. Col Boparai said there were no plans to bring it on different online platforms. Also, the museum does not have a canteen and unhygienic toilets have been a major concern for many visitors. There is no official guide here.
Memorial Museum of Maharaja Duleep Singh
Days open: Tuesday to Sunday
Timings: 10am to 6pm
Tickets: Rs 5
Upcoming plans: To tie up with NGOs for organising different activities
“We have not received funds from the government despite a number of follow-ups and gave salaries to the staff from our own pockets,” says Parminder Singh Jatpuri, museum secretary.
Based in Bassian Kothi village near Raikot, this is a 200-year-old heritage monument in which Maharaja Duleep Singh (son of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh) spent some time on his way to his exile in Britain. This place was converted into a museum two years back on May 24 by then Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal after the government spent Rs 5 to Rs 6 crore on its restoration.
The museum throws light on life of the king and his family through paintings and also has large parks and an open-air theatre. Museum secretary Parminder Singh Jatpuri said, “To be honest, the government has evinced zero interest here after the glamorous inauguration. We have not received funds from the government despite a number of follow-ups and gave salaries to the staff from our own pockets.”
However, this is the only museum which has a Facebook page which is not updated regularly. The last post on this page was in early January, this year.