The inaugural exhibition at Mumbai's first children's museum, set to open in October 2018, will be curated by children, says Sabyasachi Mukherjee, director general, Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya
Blueprint of the museum plan
"If things go according to plan, the children's museum will open in October 2018," reveals Sabyasachi Mukherjee, director general, Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS).
On May 25, 2018, a conclave at the museum witnessed a daylong brainstorming session, where top city minds and international experts discussed the focus for the soon-to-open space.
The blueprint of the museum plan
Their little museum
"We wanted the inaugural show to be inspired by children, and so we asked ourselves: 'How do we select these bright minds?' It's when we decided to organise a painting and an essay competition. Five winners from each competition will curate our first exhibition. The theme will be 'My Little Museum'," says Mukherjee. It will be open to a cross-section of schools, from IB, state board as well as BMC schools in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane, he tells us.
"While entries for the essay competition can be mailed across till July 30, the painting competition will require children to come by the museum on July 30 to create artworks based on the theme. We are in the process of contacting 250 schools, such as Bombay Scottish, Mahim, and are awaiting their response. Arya Vidya Mandir has already confirmed participation. We have partnered with Wishing Well organisation to reach out to BMC schools and NGOs. In fact, since many schools are shut for vacations, parents are encouraged to contact the museum directly if they wish to enrol their children for these competitions," adds Bilwa Kulkarni, education officer, CSMVS.
Construction at the site, on the premises of CSMVS in Kala Ghoda, in May
Principals welcome initiative
Reacting to this initiative, Molly Paul, Bombay Scottish (Mahim) principal, said, "It is a good concept as we usually see children running away from museums. Our school's art department has agreed to participate. How it pans out depends on children's creativity." Jyoti Kumar, director of education, Arya Vidya Mandir Group of Institutes, echoes her sentiment: "We are happy that CSMVS is promoting experiential learning through creative art and writing. which is in sync with our philosophy of promoting multi-dimensional learning."
In-house experts and external judges will select the winners of these contests, the results of which will be announced in early August. "After the 10 curators (8- to 14-years-olds) are selected, we will seek permission from their schools, so that they can spend time, preferably on weekends, to look at our collections — from our traditional toys to Indian art motifs — and help them widen their imagination," shares Mukherjee, adding, "We will not intervene at any stage. Let children explain it to children."
Encouraging budding creativity
Far away, in Singapore, Elaine Chan is excited about this development. The manager (education) at the National Gallery, who was one of the international experts at the CSMVS conclave, says, "It is important to provide such a place where children's voices are heard, and spaces where children are able to freely explore, play and make their own discoveries." She also believes that apart from responding to visitors' needs and interests, co-creative projects also provide visitors, particularly children, with opportunities for community engagement and dynamic dialogue.
Mukherjee's parting words reveal what promises to be a stepping stone towards the essence of the museum: "Our idea is to not create a play area, but a space where displays can help to sensitise children into becoming better human beings."
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Inputs by Pallavi Smart
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