Silence, the new normal for museums

Arts & Culture City

Museums across Bengaluru see very few visitors amidst pandemic, face financial crunch.

Bengaluru: Museums in Bengaluru which attracted thousands of tourists each week, see barely any visitors now. The usual chatter and exclaims of excitement from little children are replaced by complete silence.

“Our main visitors are organised school groups but now those schools are closed due to pandemic, our visitors now constitute mostly of local families,”, Security and maintenance officer at Visvesvaraya Technological Museum, said. He added that a smaller number of visitors have impacted revenue and they had to reduce operational costs by reducing power and water consumption and by terminating contract employees for a while.

Due to fewer visitors, Nehru planetarium is suffering financially. KT Rajan, administrative officer of the planetarium, said the number of visitors has come down to around 500-600 on weekends from 1500-2000 before the pandemic. On weekdays the number has come down to 150 from 500. He added, “Our annual budget for the operation and maintenance of sky theatre is Rs. 3.5 crore but only Rs. 1.5 crore is allocated, remaining we have to make up with donations and gate shows.”

Due to schools being closed, visitors at HAL heritage centre and aerospace museum have reduced. “We just get 150-200 visitors on weekdays now, which used to be 500-700 visitors before March,” said Bharat M, supervisor at HAL heritage centre and Aerospace. He added that the revenue from visitors now is only 20 to 30 percent of what it used to be before the pandemic. “After the lockdown, contract employees were paid only 20 days each month from June,” he said.

SC Ravikumar, an employee at HAL heritage centre, said that the repair of audio-visual display in the museum is halted due to a lack of funds.

Assistant Director at Government Museum,  said, “This is a heritage building so our main visitors used to be Architecture students, art students and school groups from different states, but since the pandemic, we barely get any visitors.”

Anil Singh Tomar, a visitor who was at HAL heritage and aerospace museum said that he had got into technical branch of Indian Airforce and he had come to study the plane models in the museum. Tomar was one of the three visitors seen inside the building. Five more were seen in the outdoor premises. Government museum and other heritage buildings in the city are often case studied by Architecture students. Professor K. Sreedhar, professor at RV College of architecture said, “Visiting heritage sites for case studies is an important part of our curriculum but because of the pandemic we couldn’t take our students to these sites. We had to teach them theory and show them documentations of these sites.” Prof Shreedhar is now planning to take students to museums so that they can get practical knowledge.

  • Empty hall at government museum

Deepthi Sasidharan, an art historian, curator and museologist said, “Museums were, they are and they will continue to be community spaces for public. Although they began as spaces where you could look at, admire and learn about things, they eventually became an important part of a city or community. It is a place where people can interact with different cultures and learn from them.”

She added, “Since many Museums are based on sustainability model of revenue, which is directly connected to money, many have shut down. But a lot of museums are slowly limping their way back and once the pandemic is over they will continue to be as relevant as ever.”

During the lockdown many prominent museums like National museum Delhi, Victoria Memorial hall Kolkata, The Birla Industrial and Technological museum saw a hike in viewership of their online galleries.


3 thoughts on “Silence, the new normal for museums

  1. A well written article. It’s definitely going to motivate people to pay a visit to our local museums. Great photos too.

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