Online conference on ‘Museum as Profession: Challenges and Issues’

Aligarh: Experts discussed various institutional and people-centric issues in museum careers during a two-day international web conference on ‘Museum as Profession: Challenges and Issues’ at the Department of Museology, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). The online conference was organised in collaboration with the ‘Ishan Promote Art, Culture and Improve Society, Uttar Pradesh’.

“Nearly 15 per cent of the museums around the world may never reopen, the UN’s cultural agency has warned, as about 90 per cent of them globally have had to close their doors due to the Covid19 pandemic,” said Mr Subrata Nath, Addition Director General, National Museum New Delhi.

Speaking as the Chief Guest, Mr Nath pointed out that the situation has forced us to revisit existing systems and processes, rethink and innovate to stay connected with community and remain relevant beyond brick and mortar set up.

He stressed on how the museum sector is adapting to the pandemic and exploring ways to support institutions in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.

“Let us not forget that besides preserving the rich cultural heritage of the Country, the museum sector also employs millions of Indians and supports their households. Social protection of museum staff, digitisation and inventorying of collections and online content development, are among the top priorities that need to be addressed,” said Mr Nath.

AMU Vice Chancellor, Prof Tariq Mansoor spoke about Museology is an inter-disciplinary subject and the various kinds of museums.

Recollecting his vivid memories of visits to museums in West Asian countries, the Vice Chancellor elucidated fascinating display of artifacts at the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo.

He advocated the need for internship programme for students in the nearby museums, particularly in Delhi.

Prof Mansoor said that the conference has some of the best experts as resource persons, who will provide the participants with the necessary information on how to resolve the issues and challenges in the museum profession.

Prof Lavanya Vemsani, Shawnee State University, USA said that even as museums all over the world are shut due to the pandemic, this unprecedented time has provided us space for introspection and careful planning for future.

Renowned conservator, Nandan Shastri, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco USA highlighted that role of art has become more central to our lives, despite the period of crisis and isolation. It is need of hour to discuss the advocacy strategies for securing resources and funding for collections stewardship, preservation initiatives, and conservation treatment.

Naaz Rizvi, Director, National Museum of Natural History, discussed the challenges related to funding and collection management in museums during the Covid19 spread.

Prof Wasim Ahmad, Dean, Faculty of Life Science delineated presentation and conservation practises of international museums.

He also pointed out that the Department of Museology students are being offered jobs in museum and heritage sector all over the country.

Professor S Asif A Naqvi discussed how museums are dealing with the pandemic by going digital.

He further spoke about the socio-economic, political and environmental trends and technological development in the museum work.

Dr Mohammad Irfan, Chairperson, Department of Museology emphasised the need to have a dialogue on the museum professions at bigger platforms.

“Stalwarts from across the world need to engage in meaningful conversations and reach out to diverse audiences for building relationships with stakeholders. Effective marketing strategies should be implemented,” said Dr Irfan.

Prof A K Das stressed the need for expertise in various spheres of the museum field is on a increase as more recently there has been a surge in services provided by designers, architects and artists.

Prof Abduraheem K extended the vote of thanks, whereas Danish Mahmood moderated the programme.

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