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Suggestions for Crafts Museum: a new identity

Crafts Museum, Delhi  11/11/2011
Name two things you would expect to see in a Museum. What kind of experience would you like to have? Something essential/exceptional?
Suggestions summarized by Giulio Passarelli, and revides by the participants*

Abhimanyu Nohwar | designer

»   Something that would make people relate to the crafts in a way to have a sort of context of both the object, the craft and the people, hence the entire story behind it. In short a way to contextualize the object.
»   The idea behind this is to go back with something. Get a deep understanding of what people are looking at. Take something away from it. Ways to continue to associate with what you have seen. Different strategies to think for this purpose.
Giulio Passarelli* | student in Anthropology at Goldsmith University, London
»   It is important to focus on the context of the objects, 'the story behind it' in order to complete them is some way. Highlight the meaning and the processes to give as much importance to the stories behind as much as the visual aspect of them.
Sudha Gopalakrishnan | Executive Director Sahapedia
»   Emphasize the orality behind the crafts, the processes behind, the cosmology, not just as a product nor simply their process. The total environment of the craft.
»   Contextualization of the experience, focus on what each one takes out of it.
Siddhartha Das* | designer
»   A place that can embody the continuity of the cultural heritage and tradition behind it. How is that communicated showing the making and the makers. The makers don't become the exhibits. Mix of tactile and digital. Also through hands on workshops, taking the CM to other places, such as schools, public spaces like squares, promenades, parks. Idea of the 'Open wall museum', i.e. of taking the "Museum in a Box" to schools. The Box could house a variety of material: objects, films, publications, educational kits amongst other things. This facilitates lecture demonstrations and workshops in a truly multi-media manner, being not limited to either solely digital or objects.
»   The crafts museum has much more to offer than other ethnological museums (such as Mexico City or Japan) due to the legacy it has. Museum should be an absolute space which incorporates the role of education through storybooks, workshops and other aspects.
Kanu Agrawal* | architect
»   It is crucial the way things are curated from the museum’s collection. One could focus on a few pieces or even one amazing object which becomes like a talisman, and opens up a whole world around it. Stories that weave around that object then can draw people to it, instead of too much information about too many things. Curate things in a way to highlight their importance for us.
»   The design of the museum itself should be conducive to the way we can appreciate the things in it. Something like wayfinding through maps in the museum is very important so one can decide what one wants to see. At the same time, it is necessary to have the right conditions, such as thermal comfort given Delhi’s epic summers, proper ventilation, lighting, and so on. The Crafts Museum has a large contrast between the openness of its courtyards, and the extreme interiority of internal gallery spaces. Maybe the courtyards can be used more effectively in the winters and the galleries can be more inviting as well as comfortable in the summers.
Arundhati Mitter* | designer
»   Get a simple and small experience. Let's say, for instance, ten things only but look at them from different aspects. For example, from different perspectives such as the people, the material, the community that supports it. Key stories that make a mark?
Margherita Russo* | economist, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
»   Describe systematically each exhibit, and the family to which they belong, with regard to space and time.
»   Make clear that behind an artefact there is not exclusively an individual handicraft, but a network of relationships, not only at local level, between people involved in the process, with different roles.
Pallavi Keshri* | entrepreneur (eyaas.com), New Delhi
»   Show the evolution of the crafts with its important influences, such as from South-East Asia, China, Persia. It is okay to globalise what we have and see where it all comes from or connects with.
»   Highlight the fact that the creation of crafts, in contrast with what most museums display, is a living tradition that needs to be preserved, not a dead one exclusively belonging to the past. As such there is a history behind it, a tradition to be revived but also a possible direction that it could take and this can be sort imagine and, therefore, be sort of futuristic in a way. This museum is the best institution to do this.
Ruchira Ghose* | Chairman at Crafts Museum, New Delhi
»   Critical to build an interesting narrative around object/s, or what has been described in earlier comments as the need to contextualise. This may include process or technique, stories, histories, poetry, literature. An overall aim could be, through the display in the various galleries, to convey in ?broad strokes’ some of the basic aspects of the philosophies and values, as also the aesthetics and common practices, of life as lived in India.
»   Have to ensure that such information as is provided is intelligible and interesting for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The Crafts Museum must devise ways of bringing in and engaging with new audiences that are not traditional users of museums.
Nidhi Harit* | Deputy Director at Crafts Museum, New Delhi
»   Importance of devising activities for children as for example exercises they may engage with in the galleries.
»   Need for community development programmes, including supporting the interaction with students and designers of the crafts persons visiting for the demonstration programme at Crafts Museum.
Mushtak Khan* | former Deputy Director at Crafts Museum, New Delhi
»   Innovation and diversity are core characteristics of handicrafts. Change and adaptation are constantly happening with raw materials and in processes and techniques. While no one can disagree with the general statement that the museum objects need to be much more contextualised, who will put all the information together, how will it be done?

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