Taking you back in time
The ongoing exhibition of photographs titled Down Memory Lane is a journey through the initial travails of building up the National Museum. Six decades later, the joint trail of galleries by the country’s first prime minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and the founder director-general of National Museum is among the images put on display at the museum .
The month-long exhibition of 57 black-and-white images captures interesting moments of the museum's growth over the first 15 years from its foundation day in summer 1955 and is the first such endeavour by the museum.
‘The show was arranged in less than a month’s time. Many of the photos were sorted from our own archives. Some came from Archaeological Survey of India and private collectors’, reveals National Museum Director-General Venu V about the ongoing exhibition.
A photograph from inside the rambling building atop the Raisina Hill, again, shows the sparse set-up in the early days when it looks more like an office room than a museum gallery.
To trail nearly seven decades back, it was in 1946 the idea of building a national museum cropped up, having been mooted by a committee headed by Sir Maurice Gwyer, the First Chief Justice of the then Federal Court. Soon, by the end of that decade, a large London exhibition of Indian arts and crafts was showcased in Delhi on their return from England. That is the story behind the 15 August, 1949 inauguration.
The foundation stone for the museum, though, was laid half-a-dozen years later. Down Memory Lane captures that historic moment as well. Pt Nehru is seen performing the ceremony on 12 May, 1955.
The ongoing exhibition, slated to end on 12 June , is not just of photos. It also features the museum’s yesteryear publications, guides, bulletins and catalogues besides its related postal stamps the government released on special occasions.
National Museum Curator (Education) V K Mathur says the show added such memorabilia to give the viewer a broader look at the functioning of the museum. He notes, ‘they help you update certain National Museum activities till recent times. For instance, one of the brochures is on an exhibition we held in 2008’.
Among the photos, a particularly vibrant pair shows engineers at the museum in a huddle under the sun and a stretch of the building under construction in the backdrop.
Images with a stronger cheer quotient follow as Down Memory Lane also shows group photos of employees - much smaller in the 1960’s compared to today. Painting workshops, story-telling sessions, clay-modelling and print-making, besides learning an ancient script and decorative arts will form the core activities for boys and girls of the 7 to 17 years group in different categories at the museumin sessions spanning from 18 May to 25 June.
When: On till 12 June
Where: National Museum