Last week, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum, we were reminded again of how there is no dearth of sheer talent and dedication when it comes to any field, professional or vocational, public or private. The trick is merely to identify and then support it.
This is what came to mind when we met and talked to Rajesh Purohit, director of the Allahabad Museum, in Mumbai to receive his Leadership Training Program certificate from the Minister of Culture Kumari Selja, watched benignly by British Museum director Neil MacGregor.
Already, even before the program had ended, like many of his fellow-participants and as part of the program, they had brought about change in their own museums. Confident and outspoken, thoroughly at ease with his subject, Rajesh told us how the program had helped them look at their own collections with fresh eyes, bringing about a new perspectice.
“What I have already done in my museum is create associations between our collection and contemporize it by drawing parallels. For example, we have an excellent Buddhist relic from Bharut in MP, displaying a pyramid comprising several human bodies in acrobatic form. How to interest the public in the richness of the figures? I contacted Ashish Kumar, the first ever Indian gymnast to get a medal at the Asiad and the Commonwealth Games. I took photographs and juxtaposed him against the collection. People who visited the museum instantly understood the association. Even better, Ashish Kumar is now the brand ambassador for the Allahabad Museum , urging people to visit and take pride in such a facility that their city possesses”.
Nor is that all. Rajesh put on display a 2nd century terracotta piece from Kosambi, which is close to Allahabad, showing the human intestine – and he got Dr Khatau, also of Allahabad who has an entry in the Guinness Book of records as having performed the most number of microsurgeries, to do the contemporising exercise for the museum.
“Everyone is very enthusiastic”, said Rajesh smugly, and it was obvious he could hardly wait to get back and into the job again.