National Museum to start free guided tours
New Delhi: The National Museum is starting a free conducted tour of over 90 minutes with 30 halts from April 23 to give visitors an informed glimpse into India`s rich heritage, spanning pre-history to modern works, in its labyrinthine galleries.
The pioneering voluntary guide programme will take visitors across the museum during the scheduled timings to not just highlight antiquities, but also kindle interest in knowing one`s heritage and understand one of the most ancient civilisations of the world.
"We have been doing a training module. It includes dry runs with a pool of 30 volunteers since late January. They have been gaining grip over subjects, improving communications skills over the past three months," said Venu Vasudevan, director-general of museum.
"It`s not the public`s fault if are generally apathetic to visiting museums. They should have a sense of ownership. This effort is designed to inculcate a feeling of ownership," Venu added.
"The visitor can choose one`s timing by the guide`s language. Many of our volunteers are bilingual. More volunteers would be brought in on days of bulk bookings. We are to later draft a smaller package with simpler script for schoolchildren," he said.
"Catch them young is our motto as well."
The museum Website nationalmuseumindia.gov.in will publish the details of the programme.
The "Path Pradarshak" programme will offer services in both English and Hindi. It would be inaugurated April 22 by Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch. From the next day, the tours will start at 10.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. from Tuesdays to Fridays.
On Saturdays and Sundays, there will be four rounds: 10.30 a.m., 11.30 a.m., 2.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m., said V.K. Mathur, curator-education, who also heads a team tasked with running the programme without a break.
Indira Vats, the museum`s assistant curator-education, said some of the 30 masterpieces being highlighted during the tour include the Dancing Girl (Mohenjodaro, 2700-2000 BC), standing Buddha (Gandhara, 2nd century AD) and Vishnu (Gupta period, 5th Century BC.
According to Jaya Chatterji, communications consultant of the programme, the volunteers were chosen from 450-odd applications.""The panel has a wide range of people - young art historians, archaeologists, retired professionals; even factory owners and homemakers."
Established in 1949, the museum functions under the culture ministry and has 200,000 works of art of Indian and foreign-origin, covering over 5,000 years. It also offers master`s and doctoral courses in history, conservation and restoration of art.