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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XX No. 22, March 1-15, 2011
Our Readers Write

Madras University museum should reflect this dedication

Madras Musings’ comment on Senate House being transformed into a museum made some absolutely valid points. It really hit the nail on the head!

We Indians have an indifferent attitude towards archiving even our own family albums and images of the past. Perhaps such thinking tends to make people give low attention and priority to museums.

In Tamil, there is the famous expression ‘Seththa College’, and that is true from concept to execution here. Our museums are destined to ‘die and decay’. Visitors generally end up wondering why museums here were ever created if they were only to be left uncared for.

A museum with a difference has been the unique L&T Museum – the Holck-Larsen Centre in Manapakkam – that showcases the genesis and spirit of the Company’s founding fathers and depicts the innumerable signature projects of L&T over the last seven decades.

A museum of any kind needs ‘a passionate team’ to envision, create and maintain it to a high order. From concept design to creating the structural edifice, knowing the art of storytelling through images (static and electronic), ensuring that visitors are well conducted through it, and to have a shared pride in it, a dedicated team is necessary. Museums need scientific development and professional management. All these have been the inputs in the Holck-Larsen Centre, which is visited daily by enthusiasts ranging from CII officials and industrial dignitaries and Consulate officials to students from colleges of architecture, management, engineering and PR & communications. A 45-minute to 2-hour session is meticulously planned for each group. At the end of it, visitors leave the centre as ‘Brand Ambassadors’!

Updating of panels on an annual basis, literature/hand-outs, mementoes to key visitors – each input is imperative to successful operation. Over and above, a good ‘Visitor’s Book’ records the high notes and feedback impressions of visitors. A photo-option with the visitors is another essential feature of the museum.

The L&T Museum won the ‘Best PR Effort’ award at the August 2008 International PR Meet in Mauritius. Now there are plans to redevelop the museum. This only emphasises that updating and redevelopment are a continuous feature in any good/lively museum.

What is needed to establish a museum is to have a vision and then prepare a master list to integrate all the resources and agencies so as to make it a brand in itself from the time of its creation.

The proposed Madras University museum should be the ‘Pride of the City’, for it offers the potential to house a rich treasure of information and images from the past and to be a buzzing place for a ‘flow of knowledge’ to students, among others, from any part of India and the world. It should also be a centre for focussed meetings and congregations of select nature, in fact a ‘Centre of Excellence’.

Looked at against this background, is Senate House really ready to be made into a museum? Yes, it should be, if there is a clear vision, dedicated manpower, adequate resource deployment, and a central, empowered core team that is permitted to professionally handle its affairs while working with multiple agencies.


Pathetic state

I am an NRI living in Dubai, but grew up in Madras. Last summer, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce my children to the history of my birthplace and first took them to the Museum on Pantheon Road. I was appalled at the condition in which the Museum was maintained. Except for one section (the bronzes section) all others were in a pathetic state.

The Art Gallery is a crying shame. Some of the pieces on display are actually cheap prints of originals.

I was unable to explain to my children why the Government could not place due emphasis on showcasing the glorious historic past. I wonder when the authorities will discover the glory that was India and give the past its due.

C.K. Jaidev

The crow’s game

I enjoyed reading the very interesting letters about crows and their behaviour (MM, January 16th).

Here is another one about the crows. I have a very tall casuarina tree in my garden. It’s over 50 feet tall and at the base it is almost one metre in circumference. I have watched the various things that crows do on this tree, including nesting and rearing their young ones.

But in summer they do something very entertaining. It starts at a little past 4.30 in the evening on most days, when a whole flock of crows starts gathering on the tree. They seem to come from everywhere, flying in and jostling for space before settling down. Then, suddenly, one of them flies off with a loud call and the whole flock takes off! They circle around tree and the garden for a bit, all calling out loudly, and then swoop back to settle down again, only to take off all over again!

This game of ‘hide and seek’, or so it seems to me, goes on for a while every day. It is very interesting to see the crows select their places, jostling and shuffling till the ‘rebel’ one gives a loud cry and then they all fly away. I have observed them repeating this game up to six times on a single evening!

I wonder if any readers have observed this game the crows play and have a ‘scientific’ explanation, if any, for it.

R. Jayaram

(Editor’s Note: This is definitely the last letter on crows!).


In this issue

Secrets of Tamil Nadu's Archives
No photographs, please, this is Chennai
Bins of cruelty
New uses for old buildings
A Home for ­Music
Masters of 20th Century Madras science
Why does Tamil Nadu keep failing?
Other stories

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Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
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