After completing the RBI Exhibition it was not even 1 PM and I was already in the Government Museum, Egmore campus, so why not go inside?. I don’t remember having gone inside the Museum in Chennai (சென்னை அருங்காட்சியகம்) before, so I was not sure what to expect. Will it match my expectation of being a World Class Museum (or) will it be just like any other Government maintained, public place in India, well designed at the time of opening but poorly maintained and deteriorating?
The Entry fee for Indians is Rs.15 and about Rs.200 for your Still camera. After spending nearly 3 hours inside the museum and seeing most of the displays, I was left with a mixed feeling. Some of the sections like Art, Currency Notes, Postal Stamps, Bronze Gallery blocks were relatively well maintained and worth visiting. But the Zoology, Children Museum, Botany are badly maintained, interiors ageing and shabby – if Chennai wants to attract more tourists then Government needs to get its act together and crack the whip on maintenance & cleanliness.
Did you know?
– There were Crocodiles swimming in Cooum River as late as last century:
– The Bronze Gallery block was Air-Conditioned (not the other blocks) to prevent the bronze sculptures from being infected by Fungus
– One of the best places in Chennai to get many of the Tamil Books under a single roof is a Permanent Book Fair Exhibition run by Publishers Association, situated just behind the Connemara Library inside the Museum campus
– The Grantha and Tamil Lipi started to diverge into different paths around 1300 years before:
In the bronze gallery, there were many wonderful Bronze Statues of Lord Nataraja in different forms of his dance posture. The one in centre had a small write-up about the significance of Lord Nataraja’s dance and Lord Nataraja being the symbol of macrocosm (cosmos) in the microcosm (human body), extracted from a book titled “Manual on the Bronze Gallery in the Government Museum, Chennai – Dr.R.Kannan, Ph.D., I.A.S”, profound philosophical idea.
It was a Saturday, so the museum was pretty empty – not too many people or students. One thing I couldn’t help noticing was a lack of interest in the visitors to stay and study exhibits (of their interest & choice) in detail. Many of the visitors, especially students gave a very cursory look at most of the exhibits and moved on. I was left wondering was this lack of interest in studying things in detail, anyway related to modern day gadgets like Television and Computers – where you can get many of the information as and when needed by just searching or by visiting Wikipedia?. Only by studying the variety and differences in Plants, Animals, Cultures we will appreciate the beauty of the world we live in. I was wondering, by seeing repeatedly what is shown in Media & Films are we becoming tuned to the idea of a stereotype life. A world in our imagination in which we want everyone to be living in a Modern City with all amenities of life?
Update Sep/2017: The Department of Museums, Government of Tamil Nadu has made available for free hundreds of ebooks that they have published over the years.
Also published on Medium.