Tuesday, May 20, 2008

International museum day: Shah dynasty ghosts haunt museum development

Kathmandu, May 18:
Government-run museums have been used as a tool to please and glorify the monarchs since the establishment of the first museum in 1938, which has resulted in state-sponsored negligence towards the contribution of other people in the national history, believe experts.
That is why the contribution of Juddha Sumshere Rana, who established the National Museum, has little room there.
“The museums in Nepal have been used to praise the kings, therefore, we could not be fair to all the aspects of history,” Jala Krishna Shrestha, the joint-secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, who is also the president of Nepal chapter of International Council of Museums (ICOM), told this daily.
Prejudice and bias in establishment and management of museums hinder the efforts to develop international standard museums, he said adding that the museums were never considered priority area of the governments.
“The history of Lichhivi period is hardly portrayed in Nepali museums and the Malla period is depicted only as a period of art and culture but when it comes to Shah period all the kings are glorified as if they are messiahs and the Ranas are not given due space,” he said. The problem starts not only with one object on display but the policy makers have blocked the
whole vision of museum development.
He was of the view that the Hanumandhoka Durbar should showcase the political and cultural development in Nepal from pre-historic times to the present instead of dedicating them for the glorification of king Tribuwan, Mahendra and Birendra.
“In the changed political context, we can hope that the museums will be neutral to all political and cultural ups and downs of the country,” he said.
Bhim Prasad Nepal, chief of National Archives, former head of Patan Museum, said the bias of the policy makers towards one or another historic character has hindered development of museums in Nepal.
“You may consider Junga Bahadur Rana as a dictator, but you cannot deny his contribution to the country. But we have not been able to do justice to him in museums,” he said.
While the government has been indifferent to development of museums, ethnic communities
are working hard to portray their history and they are successful to some extent too.
Nepal’s history recorders
•National Museum of Nepal (Kathmandu)
•Museum of Natural History Nepal (Kathmandu)
•Tribhuvan Museum (Kathmandu)
•Patan Museum (Lalitpur)
•Bronze and Brass Museum (Bhaktapur)
•National Art Gallery Nepal (Bhaktapur)
•National Woodwork Museum (Bhaktpuar)
•Dhankuta Museum (Dhankuta)
•Hattisar Museum (Makwanpur)
•Mustang Eco Museum (Mustang)
•Tharu Cultural Museum (Bardiya)

Published: May 19, 2008 12:00 am On: Kathmandu

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