Britain, India working to conserve culture: British Museum director

July 29th, 2010 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

David Cameron New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) India’s culture ministry and the British Museum are working closely to conserve Indian art, architecture and traditional textiles, says director of the museum Neil MscGregor.
He is part of the British cultural delegation touring India with Prime Minister David Cameron.

“We will host three separate workshops for the conservation of archaeological material in Kerala later this year by bringing teams of British and Indian scholars to discuss the best conservation methods. We recently invited Indian experts to work in the British museum to conserve painted textiles,” MscGregor told IANS Wednesday while visiting an art gallery in Connaught Place.

MscGregor, who has been the director of British Museum since 2002, said: “The museum’s collaboration with India has four strands in four different spheres. The British Museum has embarked on a big project to document the changing tribal culture in Arunachal Pradesh. It is spread over a period of 20 years.”

“India figures on the museum’s initiative to steer a change in curatorial practices worldwide by building a global community of scholars to explore common heritage together.

“Every year, the museum invites young curators aged below 30 from all over the world to take part in a curatorial seminar that tries to find new practices to present global expositions for a globalised world. Over the next five years, we will create two posts for Indian curators to join us in the seminar. The workshop takes place for six weeks every summer.”

Another area that will witness cooperation between India and Britain is electronic cataloging.

“The British Museum has nearly 1.7 million objects archived online for research and another six million will be uploaded subsequently. We are working on the project together with the British Library. We want to collaborate with India in digitising indigenous collectibles for collectors in Britain,” he said.

The museum is cooperating with British Indian population, Indian schools and Indian radio stations in Britain on multi-cultural projects to find out how Indian culture sits in the context of global culture.

“All cultures across the globe are connected and have influenced each other. We are trying to deepen our initiatives by exploring these connections. Our approach to promoting Indian culture is holistic. The British Museum conducts workshops on Indian cookery and cinema and it has started collecting modern Indian material under the head, ‘India Now’,” MscGregor said.

“The British Museum, founded in the year 1753, has been exhibiting facets of Indian culture to the European public since its inception,” he added.

The British Museum has seven million objects representing the rich cultural history of the world. The origin of the British Museum was built in tandem with the will of physician, naturalist and collector Hans Sloane (1660-1753).

Over his lifetime, Sloan collected 71,000 objects that he wanted to be preserved after his death. He bequeathed the collection to King George II in return for a payment of 20,000 pounds. The gift was accepted June 7, 1753 and an Act of Parliament established British Museum.

MscGregor, who taught history of art and architecture at the University of Reading, was earlier director of the National Gallery.

He turned down knighthood in 1999. He is currently presenting a series titled, “A History of the World in 100 objects” for the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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