Of late, the functioning and management of the Bhau Daji Lad museum in Byculla have been riddled with controversy. Most recently, there were ugly scenes after political demonstrations against a planned fashion show at the city’s oldest museum.
Now, as a story in this paper reported yesterday, the BMC is planning to take more control over the museum. If that were to happen, it will raise a question mark over the future role of current director, Tasneem Zakaria Mehta.
The report added that a new trust headed by the mayor will look after the affairs of the museum. Last year, there was a proposal for the museum’s expansion, along with a car park to be constructed on a neighbouring playground used by local children. The MNS stepped in, and, after considerable controversy, the proposal was trashed.
Now, with the civic authority wanting to muscle in on this cultural space, it is safe to say that there will be more trouble than smooth functioning. In the past, we have seen projects inevitably run into problems when civic authorities elbow in, because there is a clash between the new persons in control and experts who have been running the facility till then. There is a divide over proposals, a clash of ideas and further entanglement in red tape.
The Bhau Daji Lad has been wonderfully turned around and has become a great learning space now. It is evident that there has been thought, vision and expertise guiding the evolution of the museum, and that those in charge know what they are doing. What is the benefit in interfering in a well-oiled unit, especially when there is little expertise that the authorities can claim when it comes to running museums?
This space away from Mumbai’s cultural hub in SoBo gives citizens an opportunity to imbibe history and culture in the heart of the city. Leave the running of this to the experts, because, as they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.