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Lack of publicity blamed for decline in museums’ popularity

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, March 16: Hanuman Dhoka Museum, National Museum, Patan Museum and the newest of them Narayanhiti Museum drew around half a million people last year.

As many as 466,000 people visited the top four museums of the Kathmandu Valley last year.

The Narayanhiti Museum established in February 27, 2009 after the country became republic, attracted the highest number of visitors with 200,000 people visiting the museum to have a close look at the former royal palace that was out of bounds for general public, said Lekh Bahadur Karki, chief of the museum.

He added that as many as 1,78,212 people have already visited the site till mid-February of the running fiscal year. A majority of those visitors were students, whereas 15,250 were foreigners.

The Hanuman Dhoka Museum, situated at the Hanuman Dhoka World Heritage Site, succeeded to draw around 150,000 students and tourists from SAARC and non-SAARC countries, according to Hari Kumar Shrestha, program manager with the Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square Conservation Program of the Kathmandu Meropolitan City.


Hanumandhoka Museum Photo: Nirjana Sharma

Patan Museum, established in 1998 with the support from Austrian government, consists of 1,100 art works, including 200 artifacts selected for permanent exhibition.

The sculptures of Hindu and Buddhist deities are the major attractions of the museum. The images of deities and artifacts are accompanied by commentaries that explain to the visitors the historical significance of Nepal´s cultural heritage. Thus, 66000 people visited the museum last year. Likewise more than 30,000 have already visited in the ongoing fiscal year.

The chief of the first public museum of the country National Museum located in Chhauni, Kathmandu feels that the number of visitors could be increased by adding contents that are research oriented.

“We have failed to make use of publicity to promote our museums among tourists,” said Mandakini Shrestha, chief of the National Museum. She added that the documents useful for students and researchers also need to be upgraded to reflect the multi-cultural outlook the country.

Established in 1928, as the Arsenal Museum at the residence of the then Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa at Chhauni, the museum was not opened for public until 1938. Only the guests and family of Rana prime ministers were allowed into the museum.

Ever since its inception, the Museum has collected thousands of valuable objects and thus occupies a very prominent position as a repository of ancient Nepalese art and culture,” Shrestha said. She said around 50,000 people visited the museum this year.
Hanuman Dhoka Museum (1)
Ethnographic Museum

Meanwhile, there is only one ethnographic museum in the capital that represents the multi-cultural outlook of the country. In a bid to preserve our rich culture for the future generation as well as for the tourists, right at the heart of the capital, Nepal Tourism Board and Nepal National Ethnographic museum have set up a permanent exhibition of eleven different ethnic communities such as the Thakali, Sherpa, Tamang, Gurung, Rai, Limbu, Chepang, Jyapu of Newar group, Magar, Sunwar and the Tharu communities at NTB central office.

Nepal-Tibet Museum: A high potential project

The relation between ancient Nepal and Tibet is eminent in the history of Nepal. Princess Bhrikuti, daughter of the Lichhavi King Amshuverma, was married to Tibetan king in the sixth century. The history of cultural exchange between the two states in the sixth century could be a major draw for tourists if it is publicized by establishing a museum.

According to museum expert Jal Krishna Shrestha, two museums can be established on the same theme in Lhasa of China and the other one in Kathmandu.

There is also a belief that Manjushree came to Kathmandu from Tibet and formed the Kathmandu Valley in ancient time. Portraying prehistoric trade relation between Nepal and Tibet through art and sketches would also be interesting for the visitors, he said.

“We would need the support of the Chinese government to institutionalize this concept,” said Shrestha.

Museum on sex theme in three years

The visitors may have noticed the erotic representations of gods and goddess at different heritage sites in the Valley. But the Nepali society is still not quite open to discuss sex like many other south asian countries.

“The Eastern philosophy describes sex as sacred and inevitable for regeneration, whereas western civilization takes it as an amusement and entertainment,” said Shrestha, a former government officer.

The group of seven people, along with him, is working to institutionalize the concept by forming an organization.

“We are still working on the concept as it has to be presented in an artistic way,” he said. They hope to open the museum by 2016. “We need Rs 10 million in the beginning,” he said, adding that his group was looking for partners.

——-

INTERVIEW

Sustainability is the main challenge of the Museums: Jal Krishna Shrestha
Museum Expert and former Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Civil Aviation

Is the current flow of visitors to museum satisfactory?
The museums can attract visitors only if they are updated time and again. Only a couple of them are doing well. Though the authorities like to exaggerate the number, hardly 10,000 visitors go to the museums. Many museums are surviving because of the support they get from locals. But the situation may not go on for long.
The most interesting fact about our museums is that none of them were established by constructing new buildings but by customizing the ancient palaces.

Why can´t they attract tourists?
We must admit that most of the visitors to the museums are Nepali students, so the number of visitors is very less when we look at the number tourists visiting Nepal every year.

Though the four museums have registered significant number of visitors, there are eight other museums in the Valley that fail to attract more people. In fact, they are struggling for their existence.

List of museums in the Valley

  • Brass and Bronze Museum, Bhaktapur,
  • Wood Carving Museum, Dattatreya Square, Bhaktapur
  • National Art Gallery, Bhaktapur
  • Patan Museum, Lalitpur
  • Narayanhiti Palace Museum, Durbarmarg, Kathmandu
  • Natural History Museum, Manjushree Bajaar, Swayambhu, Kathmandu
  • Hanuman Dhoka Museum, Basantapur Durbar Square
  • National Ethnographic Museum, Bhrikutimandap
  • Asha Archives, Nyokha Tole, Kathmandu
  • National Museum, Chhauni, Kathmandu
  • Jyapu Museum, Kathmandu (Under construction)
  • Chittadhar Hridaya Museum, Chhetrapati, Kathmandu
  • Nepali Folk Music Instrument Museum, Tripureshor, Kathmandu
  • National Ethnic Museum, Champadevi, Kirtipur
Published on 2013-03-16 07:00:30
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About nirjanasharma

Journalist.

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