At the start, a round of applause for Mumbai’s two main museums — Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS, formerly Prince of Wales Museum) and Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum (formerly Victoria & Albert Museum). In the past, both have gone to great lengths to ensure that visitors got their money’s worth (a paltry entry fee in comparison to museums in global cities) each time they set foot inside.
Regulars at both venues and our readers who’ve been following the goings-on, helped (we hope!) with regular mentions in The GUIDE, will admit the vibrancy in the itineraries. The hands-on focus and vision of Dr Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Dr Tasneem Mehta, and their teams — has led the way for this turnaround.
We witnessed several world-famous exhibits. Like the British Museum’s remarkable collections that were on display at the CSMVS — The Mummy — The Inside Story and recently, the Cyrus Cylinder and other Persian artefacts. At Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, the Guggenheim Lab project was an ode to art and city spaces; a special mention must go to the Homeland’s exhibition.
Talks and sessions at both museums made for stirring listens. The ongoing video art series at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, the restoration work at CSMVS headed by Anupam Shah; the list is endless, really, and would need columns of newsprint to articulate. Both venues also went off the beaten track — Kahani Karnival was a daylong kids cultural festival at the CSMVS, while the ongoing music and art events at the plaza of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum will keep the young engaged. Its free tours will prod newbies to step in and discover a treasure trove.
Taking cue, we’d love to see Mani Bhavan, the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Museum and the Alpaiwala Museum replicate such ideas. Wishful thinking, this but we will do a jig if the Asiatic Society Library opens sections of the Town Hall to the public. Imagine the mileage these venues will get, and the worth it will add to our drab city itineraries. This is an area that needs immediate tapping into, or else these stand to remain “off-limits” zones meant for grey-haired scholars and PhD aspirants.
After all, if we citizens cannot think of ways to celebrate our priceless treasures that lie unnoticed, pray, then who will?
— The writer is Features Editor of mid-day.