Partition museum opening pushed to 2022 R-Day as Covid halts work
- The trust is also collaborating with Ambedkar University’s Centre for Community Knowledge which will provide some of the narratives and oral histories for the museum.
The inauguration of the first Partition museum in Delhi, which was slated for Independence Day this year, has been pushed to Republic Day next year as the Covid-19 crisis halted on-site work between April and July, said officials.
The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust (TACHT), which set up a similar museum in Amritsar in 2017 and is managing the Delhi project, resumed work on setting up the museum earlier this month at the Dara Shikoh Library Building in Kashmere Gate, inside the Ambedkar University campus.
“We started on-site work around two weeks ago. At present, we have started the carpentry work to get the rooms ready for the museum installation along with working on curation and other areas. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, even the restoration work in the building allotted for the museum came to a halt due to a shortage of labourers and other factors. We were only handed the museum in the second week of July,” said Kishwar Desai, chair at TACHT.
“If there is no third wave, we should have the Partition museum ready by early January, in time for Republic Day. It is challenging as we have to maintain all Covid-appropriate protocols, including wearing masks and ensuring physical distancing. We are also trying to ensure that our workers are vaccinated on time,” she said.
The museum is likely to have 10 galleries that house around 200 artefacts, including letters, certificates, clothes, utensils and photographs that belong to those who migrated to Delhi from across the border during the 1947 India-Pakistan partition.
The site will also be developed as a cultural hub, with three museums related to the history of Delhi and the changes brought about by big events and key individuals.
The first one — the Partition museum — is expected to be ready in January next year. A second museum on Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, and a third on medieval and ancient antiquities from the Delhi state archaeology department, will come up later.
“Our curation work is almost done. Acquiring a few artifacts got held up because people had to send it from different cities and the lockdown made it difficult. But we are now in the process of getting them as the Covid-19 situation looks better,” Desai said.
The trust is also collaborating with Ambedkar University’s Centre for Community Knowledge which will provide some of the narratives and oral histories for the museum.
From a century-old land deed scripted in Urdu, including information on a piece of land in Jhang, Pakistan, to a wedding card from 1947, TACHT has also collected various basics that people managed to bring with them, such as clothes, utensils, letters, documents, photographs and certificates, while hurriedly trying to cross the border during the Partition, which left two million people dead and displaced another 10 to 20 million.