Culture keepers of time

May 17, 2014, 12:00 IST | The GUIDE Team

Tomorrow is International Museum Day. To celebrate these treasure troves, the guide has packed in an engaging joyride of wishlists, offbeat museums and a pop quiz, too!

Our wish list for Mumbai’s museums

Rahul Da Cunha, Theatre person 
I want a performing arts museum — complete with guided tours. This museum will house all the main performing arts in the country — dance, music and theatre — from their early beginnings to the present.

The hallway of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya. PIC/SAMEER MARKANDE

Rahul da CunhaIn the dance section, the museum will exhibit various manifestations using puppets, photos, and plenty of information of this great art form. From the dances of South India, like Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi to North India’s Bhangra, the Raas and Garba of Gujarat to Bollywood and other modern dances of the cities. Videos should also be projected.

The theatre section will be replete with regalia of the great traditions of Indian theatre in all its languages and styles — plus mime, street plays, children’s theatre, physical theatre, illusion, folk and musical theatre. Videos must also be
available for people to see the plays live, much like what the National Theatre in London does with its NT Live shows.

And finally, the music section should be a rich showcase, with all the vibrancy and range that constitutes this great
art form in India.

Jerry Pinto, author, poet, translator
I would love to see our museums as interactive spaces. The CSMVS and the Bhau Daji Lad Museum are beginning to look like world class museums now.

Jerry PintoI would love to see teachers bringing children, not to see the museum, but to see one piece. To stand before one piece of sculpture and have it explained to them, in terms of aesthetics and spirituality, history, geology and everything else that comes in. To bring the children in, during the rains and stand in front of a ragamala and then get them to think of rains, music of the rains and explain petichor.

I think I have learned so much from museums because I had the right parents, the right teachers, and the right guides. I don’t know if many other people are as fortunate. I want them to know what magic and mystery is in
museums but most of all, I want them to know that they own this magic and mystery because the museum is a repository of what it means to be human and as we gaze at an ancient sword or a potsherd or a piece of jewellery, our hearts should swell with pride to be part of this enterprise: civilisation.

Mustansir Dalvi, Professor, Sir JJ School of Architecture
Mustansir DalviWhen it comes to museums, I am a bit old-fashioned. I would like to see a museum based on the popular culture that emerged out of Bombay — a culture that we have been producing since the late 1920s that consists of products (many imported), advertisements, leaflets, magazines, newspapers, cinema, theatre, food, and personal products.

Also urban signage, the lives of the trams and the ghoda gadis, the early local trains, and ferries. We will also need, in the near future and museum of Bombay’s urban memories, since these may be the only place where we will come to appreciate (and lament) the lost past that was the physical Bombay. The changes that we see today are fast and brutal, irredeemably changing the fabric of the city that we took for granted for all these decades.

‘Mumbai badly needs a cricket museum’
Veteran cricket icon and Mumbai resident, Madhav Apte rues the lack of a museum to house our cricket treasures

On importance of a cricket museum in the city...
A museum is a treasure for any city. In a city like Mumbai, with its rich connections with the game (cricket), there is a need for a museum. Moreover cricket is the most popular game in India. So there is definitely a need.

We Indians are not efficient in preserving. In fact, we are bad at it. Lord’s (Lord’s Cricket Ground) has a wonderful museum, maintained by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), where they have collected and arranged treasures from across the globe. I would be surprised if the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) or the Mumbai Cricket Association has all the scorecards and match reports (from the past) with them. The city has a very dense history. This is where cricket started in India with the Oriental Cricket Club more than 150 years back.

On what needs to be preserved...
Cricket balls, stumps, caps. Barring a few individual collectors, nothing has been preserved. As part of the Golden Jubilee of CCI (Cricket Club of India), which was found in the 1930s, there was a decision to make a book about the club. That was when everyone realised how very little information we have. According to me, scorecards are extremely important. It gives the complete idea of what happened in the match.

About the cricket museum...
I have only heard about this museum. I am excited as Mumbai badly needs a museum. But it is also important that the museum gets the right curator, not just a mere cricket lover. He should be a known professional, somebody on a mission, somebody who understands what he is doing. And moreover, it has to be an ongoing process. At most times, a president is interested and initiates a scheme only for his successor to discontinue it.

—As told to Nevin Thomas

Get a-mused across India
Your guide to some of the country’s offbeat museums. Go figure why!

Customs and Central Excise Museum 
This museum showcases the history of customs, smuggling and related activities! Housed in a ‘blue building’, this heritage structure was built by the Portuguese, nearly 200 years back. As seen in the picture, the museum visit can be thrilling as you glimpse through various smuggling ploys such as shoe soles, cycle tyres, body parts and more. One can also find confiscated rare items such as a handwritten copy of Abul Fazal’s Ain-e-Akbari and a gold-gilded idol of Jambala.  

At Customs and Central Excise Museum,Old Customs House, opposite Captain of Ports Jetty, Panjim.
Call 0832-2437362

Vechaar Utensils Museum 
1 pm to 3 pm and 5 pm to 10.30 pm Built in 1981, Vechaar (Vishalla Environment Centre for Heritage of Art, Architecture and Research) Utensils Museum is a place of wonders. The telling utensils are old as early as a millenium or a century. Made out of various materials — mud to silver — the utensils can teach you how humankind’s needs have changed over time.

At Vechaar, opposite Vasna Tol Naka, Ahmedabad.
call 079-26607974
log on to

Conflictorium: Museum of Conflict
11 am to 8 pm Only one-year old, but this intriguing space has been making news since its inception. The museum is hinged on the idea of conflict and has various fixtures — Conflict Timeline, Sorry Tree, Diversity Forum — in order to stress interactivity in the space of a museum. Understanding how conflict arises, one can understand humanity better through multimedia spaces such as the memory lab, theatre of conscience and more.

At Conflictorium, Museum of Conflict, Gool Lodge opposite RC School
of Commerce, Mirzapur, Bhadra, Amdavad.
call 079-25620747

Subir Raha Oil Museum at ONGC
One of the best places to put your science lessons or curiosity to best use, the Oil Museum is the perfect place to know about the world’s most precious resource. The place traces the history and various stages of production of oil till it is processed as a refined product. Inaugurated in 2005, the museum was formerly the palace of a maharaja who belonged to the Patiala lineage.  

At Krishna Nagar, Dehradun, Uttarakhand. 

Kurusura Submarine Museum
If you’ve always fancied sea travel, here’s a chance to experience its history through this submarine. Beached in Vishakhapatnam, the submarine was an integral part of the Indian Navy for 31 years. Now on land, this museum is reported to be the first of its kind in South Asia. Almost 600 metres in length, the vessel has been in premium shape since its inauguration in 2002. 

At Gajapathi Raju Marg, Ramakrishna Mission Beach, Vishakhapatnam.
Call 0891-2563429

Quiz time with Mumbai’s kids
We asked five Mumbai schoolchildren to name at least one city museum. See how they fared...

Mugdha Pawar
Mugdha Pawar, 13, Lalbaug

We have two famous museums in the city. One is named after Shivaji and the other is near the zoo in Byculla. I am not aware of the other museums.

Hrithik Rai, 11, Thane
Hrithik Rai, 11, Thane

I have been there twice but can’t remember the long name. I think it’s Shivaji Park.

Shivansh Shetye, 7, Santacruz
Shivansh Shetye, 7, Santa- cruz

I had been there when I was small, it’s called Sangrahalaya!

Aarushi Thanawala,  12, Thane
Aarushi Thanawala, 12, Thane

I think Jehangir Art Gallery, that’s the only one I am aware of.

Ishaan Lodha, 10, Vile Parle
Ishaan Lodha, 10, Vile Parle

Prince of Wales Museum and Bhau Daji Lad Museum.  

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