In a welcome move, the national museum in New Delhi has decided to organise conducted tours by the visitors of its labyrinthine galleries under the supervision of qualified guides. Without such guidance, the average person is liable to be bewildered by the display of the country’s magnificent heritage, spanning the period from pre-history to modern works of art. The value of the artifacts can be guessed from the fact that they include a 5,000-year-old child’s toy from Mohenjodaro to sacred relics of Gautama Buddha belonging to the 5th-4th centuries B.C. or within a hundred years of Buddha’s lifetime (563 to 483 B.C.).
In all, the museum has in its possession more than 2,00,000 antiquities of both Indian and foreign origin. Since the guides will comprise art historians and archaeologists, they would be able to shed light on the collection of treasures. There will also be retired professionals with a special interest in various subjects who will be able to give a personal touch to the bare bones of history.
If their discourses, which have been vetted by a team of curators, arouse interest and bring in more visitors, then the experiment will be deemed worthwhile since, till now, the museum has not been attracting as many visitors as its invaluable collections should. Compared to the British museum, which is visited by 6 million every year, the various museums in India do not get more than 2 to 2.5 million. If the forthcoming guided tours prove to be a success, then these ventures can be introduced in the other museums in order to raise popular interest not only in the glories of India’s ancient history, but also in other civilisations. An appreciation of history and culture is the key to the development of a well-rounded personality, which is the purpose of preserving the country’s heritage for future generations.