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Window Seat: Museum

15/05/2022 at 7:24 AM

The word museum has classical origins. In its Greek form, mouseion, it meant “seat of the Muses” and designated a philosophical institution or a place of contemplation. By the 17th century, museum was being used in Europe to describe collections of curiosities. 

The origins of the twin concepts of preservation and interpretation, which form the basis of the museum, lie in the human inclination to acquire and inquire. 

Collections of objects have been found in burials at the early phase of stone age- some 2.5 million years ago, while evidence of inquiry into the environment and communication of the findings could be seen in the cave and mobiliary art of the same period. A development toward the idea of the museum certainly occurred early in the 2nd millennium BCE at Larsa, an important city-state in Mesopotamia, where copies of old inscriptions were made for use in the schools.

The concept of museum as a repository was very much there in ancient India. However, in modern times the first museum was built in 1814. Founded in 1814 at the cradle of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (at the present building of the Asiatic Society, 1 Park Street, Kolkata), it was  the earliest and the largest multipurpose Museum not only in the Indian subcontinent but also in the Asia-Pacific region of the world.

Presently India has over 400 government funded and countless number of private museums on different themes, subjects and artifacts. We have museum of motor bikes, camera, dolls, brooms and even toilet. We also have museums dedicated to Partition, Sepoy Mutiny (or first war of Independence). We have Media Museums (IIMC, Dhenkanal where I work has one) and also Natural History Museums and Science Museums.

Despite such diversity, they are bound by a common goal: the preservation and interpretation of some material aspect of society’s cultural consciousness. And that’s why museums are important. They show us the link between past and present and also hint at the future.

18 May is celebrated as World Museum Day. Go celebrate it by visiting one.

Adieu Shiv Kumar Sharma

PanditShivkumar Sharma, who gave the folk musical instrument santoor a classical status and introduced it big way in mainstream film songs passed away in Mumbai on May 10, 2022. He was 84.

Born into family of musicians in Jammu, he was initiated into the world of music early. In fact his father Uma Dutt Sharma started teaching him vocals and tabla, when he was just. He started learning santoor, a folk instrument typical of Jammu and Kashmir when he was thirteen.

He gave his first public performance in Mumbai at the age of 17. The next two decades saw Shiv Kumar Sharma rising as a new star in the rarified area of classical music. In 1967, he teamed up with flautist HariprasadChaurasia and guitarist BrijBhushanKabra to produce an album Call of the Valley, which turned out to be one of Indian classical music’s greatest hits.

His foray into composing music for Hindi films along with HariprasadChaurasia (they were known as Shiv-Hari) produced some of the most loved songs of all time. They composed music for Silsila in 1980. ‘Rang Barshe..’, the holi song of Silsila has become a theme song of Holi revelry since then. Faasle (1985), Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991) and Darr (1993) followed.

The demise of Shiv Kumar Sharma has created a void that is hard to fill.

How to contain the plastic bottle menace

Plastic waste is India’s and the world’s most formidable environmental challenge today. Almost 80 per cent of the plastic made in the world enters our land, water and environment as waste; some of it also enters our bodies through the food chain, says a New Delhi based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) analysis. 

A Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report (2018-19) puts the total annual plastic waste generation in India at a humungous 3.3 million metric tonnes per year.

As Sunita Narain of CSE says, “Plastic waste is everywhere today. It is in our faces. It is filling up our oceans and destroying marine life and even invading our food chain to get into our bodies. Our per capita use of plastics is growing.”

Now the question is how to contain it- at least at the micro level. One way is to reuse it. Here are two examples of reuse. At Kumarokam, Kerala plastic bottles filled with sand are used to construct walls. I have visited the school with walls made of plastic bottles at Kumarokam during my visit to IIMC, Kottayam campus in Kerala. Recently I read a newspaper report about such initiative at LahulSpiti, Himachal Pradesh, where the bottles are filled with waste wrappers of chocolates, biscuits and chips. These bottles then are used as poly-bricks for construction of a brest wall, a low stone wall that’s constructed on the hill side to support the bank of the earth.

By reducing the use of plastic bottles and reusing them- we can contain the menace at least at the micro level.

Water for the Birds

We have kept pitcher full of water in several places in our campus for the birds to quench their thirst in the hot summer months. This particular pitcher has been presented to us by Dhenkanal based SubranshuSatpathy. He has presented such pitchers to hundreds of persons and institutions with just one request: see no bird dies of thirst. A photographer and documentary film maker Subhranshu conducts workshops on bird and animal preservation.

About the Author:

Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. He also writes fiction and plays.

He can be reached at [email protected]


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com

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