The Parliament Museum, which was inaugurated by former President APJ Abdul Kalam on 15 August 2006 in the Parliamentary Library Building, is expected to reopen to the public in August 2023. Delhi’s Parliament Museum was created to depict India’s historical journey in a way that makes visitors feel a connection to the previous events. Unique exhibitions are displayed in each section of the museum; each section refers to a part of Indian history. The galleries are installed with paintings, sculptures, and even sounds and lights to make the experience more realistic.
The newly upgraded museum, a 15-crore project, will be spread across two floors and will have exhibits on the different themes of “Seeds of Democracy,” “Constitutional History of India,” “The Structural Strength of India,” “Indian Democracy in Action,” “Successful Running of India’s Democracy,” and “The Parliament Building: Past, Present, and Future.”
Through a variety of artworks and installations, the project aims to upgrade and modernise the museum, and transform it into a display of India’s vibrant and raucous democratic experience. The National Museum Institute (NMI), deemed University under the Union Ministry of Culture, was given the task of bringing this project to life, and a Rs 14 crore contract to undertake the upgrading based on NMI content was given to the Gurugram-based private business Pan Intellecom.
However, with only four months left before its deadline, this project of highlighting the various stages of Indian history which is supposed to be given the highest priority and care has fallen into a row between NMI and Pan Intellecom. In order to give recommendations for the redesign, particularly about the speeches that should be highlighted on the origins of Indian democracy, Pan Intellecom employed historian Makkhan Lal, a former professor at AMU who previously worked on the Prime Ministers’ Museum.
According to The Indian Express, “The history expert with the agency has alleged that Parliament Museum is being curated on the “basis of Wikipedia and questionable sources from the net rather than published sources in the libraries”. The NMI has rejected the charges, of course. But the content debate is only a subset in a dismal bigger picture — the unimaginative and unambitious manner in which a premier museum of “the mother of democracy”, to borrow PM Narendra Modi’s phrase, is being refurbished. The Parliament Museum should have been reimagined by the finest curators in India, and the world, and not be reduced to a site for ego battles and turf wars.”
A museum is more than just a collection of objects; the curator gives it life. The museum will engage its prospective audience if curatorial vision is at the heart of making it more than the structure and its exhibits. The Parliament Museum needs curators with creative visions who can convey to its visitors the dynamic spirit of Indian democracy. We hope that differences will be kept aside and effort will be put into breathing life into the newly upgraded museum that will be a reflection of the vibrant Indian history.