The 47th edition of the International Museum Expo, held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiling plans for inauguration of the world's largest museum, named “Yuge Yugeen Bharat National Museum''.
The three day event that began on 19 May 2023 was organised as a part of the “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav '' period with the theme of the year being ‘Museums, Sustainability and Well Being’. The event was held with the aim to invoke interest of the people for historical artefacts of the nation.
The upcoming museum will span over 1.17 lakh square metre across the North and South blocks flanking the Rashtrapati Bhavan, having three storeys (including a ground basement).
The 950 room architecture is certain to eclipse the grandeur of the Louvre in Paris, France which is currently the largest museum spanning over 73,000 square metre.
Notably, the upcoming museum will showcase 5,000 years of Indian history.
The blueprint of the museum highlights not only the glory of the various epochs of Indian history but also its vibrant cultures, fauna and flora.
The gates of the architecture will remarkably open to highlight the distinct metallurgical culture in the ancient people groups of the nation such as the zinc extraction in Zawar, Rajasthan.
This will be followed with an entire floor dedicated to the archaic Sindhi-Saraswati civilisations, with focus on sites such as Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and Lothal.
Another section will be entirely dedicated to the diverse fauna and flora of the nation, which has played an integral part in shaping the culture of the land and thus are worshipped with fervour even today.
The sacred peethas and temples of the land will also be receiving their fare share in the collectorate, displaying the religious heritage of the forefathers.
There will also be an emphasis on sacred texts such as the Vedas, Puranas and other manuscripts of civilisational importance.
Visitors will soon be able to learn of the immense contributions of Indian scholars such as Charaka and Sushruta who played a vital role in shaping today’s medical practices in India.
An entire part will also be dedicated to singing paeans of ancient Indian empires such as the Mauryans, Guptas and Kushans who are looked to by the various kingdoms that came after them.
Massive empires such as the Rashtrakutas, Gurjara-Pratiharas and the Palas will also be given their due share in the nation making process.
The mediaeval section of the museum will focus on some of the various kingdoms of India such as the Solankis, Sisodias, Parmar and the various Rajput states.
Their art styles, religious contributions and victories will also be enshrined for public view. Kingdoms such as the Ahoms in Northeast to the Karnata kingdom down South (commonly called the Vijayanagara dynasty) will also find place in the upcoming repository for the people to learn from.
Shifting from the tales of the Hoysala and the Maratha kingdoms, the focus will shift to that of contemporary India when the British empire set foot on the soil of this land.
The fifth section of the museum will be dedicated to the struggles endured by the revolutionaries in removing the yoke of foreign rule during the century of British occupation.
Some examples of this include the Sannyasi rebellion of Bengal in 1770 where sadhus rose up against the oppressive regime, and the 1857 rebellion where various Indians attempted to oust the East India company altogether.
From the two centuries of the struggle to decolonise the land, the last section will then focus on the immense effort taken by the fledgling state to regain her lost glory.
This section will highlight the efforts to gain civic rights, scientific advancements and other important notes such as the conception of the present Indian constitution. Figures such as C V Raman, H J Bhabha and J C Bose will serve as exemplars for the budding talents of this nation to imbibe from.
During the inauguration of the plans, the Prime Minister emphasised that a substantial amount of the inheritance of the territory was forfeited during the era of enslavement, which endured for hundreds of years, wherein ancient manuscripts and libraries were incinerated.
He stressed that this was not solely a loss to India but a loss to the heritage of the entire world. He further criticised the absence of adequate initiatives in post-independence India to revive and conserve the long-forgotten inheritance of the nation.
Additionally, he expressed regret that the lack of awareness among citizens aggravated the impact of this situation even more.
The premier expressed satisfaction that several countries have begun returning India's heritage, reflecting India's growing global reputation.
He cited examples of stolen statues, including Maa Annapurna from Banaras, Mahishasurmardini from Gujarat, Nataraja idols from the Chola Empire, and a sword adorned with Guru Hargobind Singh Ji's name.
He added that, in the past nine years, around 240 ancient artefacts have been recovered and repatriated to India, a significant increase compared to previous decades.
PM Modi also highlighted a considerable reduction in cultural artefact smuggling from India during this period.
He urged art enthusiasts and museum professionals worldwide to enhance collaboration in this domain, stressing the importance of ensuring that no artwork obtained unethically finds a place in any museum.
The Prime Minister concluded with a commitment to preserving India's heritage while forging a new legacy.
He underscored the profound importance of embracing the legacy of the past as well as fostering connections with countries that share cultural history.
He mentioned that the sacred relics of Lord Buddha, which were passed down through the generations across the world, are now helping bring together followers of his pervasive ideology.
The PM also took note of the government’s attempts at having sent four holy relics to Mongolia on the last Buddha Poornima, and receiving holy relics from Sri Lanka in Kushinagar likewise. He talked of India’s rich heritage that can bring the world together in harmony.
The august gathering also saw PM Modi presenting an updated version of the well known wooden dancing girl in the distinct Chennapatnam art style as the mascot of the expo.
In addition to that, he unveiled “A Day at the Museum”, a graphic novel showcasing employment opportunities at a museum; the Directory of Indian Museums, a comprehensive survey of the museums of the nation; a miniature map of the Kartavya Path, and collectible museum cards.
Manuel Rabate, the Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, expressed his gratitude towards the Indian government for having invited him to the event, He went on to add that he was hopeful of cultural developments brought about by the efforts of the administration.
Looking forward to the future, he exuded positivity in regards to more of the Indian historical relics and artefacts being brought out.
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