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Museums and Changing Cultural Landscape (Proceedings of the International Seminar)
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Museums and Changing Cultural Landscape (Proceedings of the International Seminar)
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Preface

International Seminar on 'Museums and Changing Cultural Landscape' was organized by the department of Museology, National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology in collaboration with the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) from 2-4 September 2012 at the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS), Leh, Ladakh, India.

Ladakh is one of the highest inhabited places on earth, with a culture that remain isolated for centuries. The heritage, natural and cultural, of the region is unique an the community is close knit. This once isolated land is accessible like never before, every year more and more people from all over the world are visiting Ladakh. Interaction and exposure for both the groups, visitors and people of Ladakh, is enormous and it is bound to affect the ecology, nature and culture of Ladakh. Ladakh has the potential of becoming a melting pot of cross-fertilization of ideas and experience. The rich culture is being ruffled now by the ever-growing avalanche of tourists and the information explosion but only in tourist spots and in its only town, Leh. There is a growing realization of the need to preserve cultural traditions alongside balancing the pressures of modern needs. In recent years there has been an increasing insistence in Ladakh that there should be a museum in Leh showcasing all aspects of Ladakhi culture. There are many monasteries in Ladakh that serve as museums on Buddhist religion, art, and culture. Some of these monasteries have opened small museums and many others are in the process of setting up similar museums.

The aim of the international seminar, 'Museums and Changing Cultural Landscape' was to explore museums' potential to be platforms for documenting, representing, and communicating socio-cultural change in the context of Ladakh. The intent was that the seminar would help initiate the process of planning a museum for Ladakh in a manner appropriate to the people and region. The seminar traced a two-fold path running parallel yet connected - addressing the need for a museum in Ladakh and using this as a case study to question and explore the changing form and relevance of museum. Socio-cultural change and its unprecedented pace is a phenomenon which museums all over the world are struggling to deal with. It is being realized that museums have to become platforms reflecting, representing and communicating change in the society and its constantly changing needs.

This book aspires to collect, document and represent various aspects of Ladakhi heritage, life and culture in their tangible ad intangible manifestations. It seeks to explore ways not merely for preserving physical collections but also for connecting the younger generation with their own identity, for stimulating dialogue on the present issues concerning culture, and for providing a mechanism for understanding and channelizing the future course of cultural change. It also hopes to raise questions such as - In view of fast disappearing traditional community centers and cultural platforms can museums fill the void of documenting and representing socio-cultural heritage and identity?; How effective is the process of involving people at all levels of setting up a museum? Should the members of the community not answer whether they require a museum in the first place? If yes, then what should be the form, nature, characteristics, and functions of such a museum?

The seminar invited scholars of culture and heritage studies to discuss, share and advice on the possible forms of a museum for Ladakh. International scholars, museum experts and academicians attended the seminar from various parts of the world and India. Papers in this book are on various aspects of development of a museum, such as conceptualization, building of collections, documentation, communication, community participation, and intangible cultural heritage. Ladakhi scholars have written about the cultural history of Ladakh; the cultural similarities between Central Asia and Ladakh; collections within monasteries; memories and knowledge outside the Monasteries; the Islamic heritage of Ladakh; traditions of Ladakhi people; Intangible heritage of Ladakh. International scholars and scholars from other parts of India deliberate on theoretical and methodological issues such as: why visit museums? ; will the museum be active or a passive space? Who are the audience going to be? ; documentation of cultural heritage; Ladakh as a cultural and living museum; the process of conservation and reconstruction; the importance of keeping alive the link between the object and its context; the need for keeping the visitors at the heart of the museum; community as the stakeholder; cultural mapping; and more.

The seminar was accompanied by a photographic exhibition, 'The First Frames: In the Footsteps of Early Explorers". The exhibition brought to the people of Ladakh some of the earliest photographs of Ladakh and Tibet. The exhibition represented the collection of photographs and fresco tracings (1947-1949) of Li Gotami from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya (CSMVS), Mumbai; the photographs of the German archaeologist August Hermann Francke( 1909) from the digital photographic collection of the library of the University of Leiden; and archival photographs (1960s) of Ladakh from the photo archives of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The exhibition aspired to rekindle, in these fast-changing times, memories of earlier life, culture, architecture, and religion in the Western Himalayan region.

Since long there has been consciousness and awareness amongst the people of Ladakh about the preciousness of their culture and. its vulnerability and fragility to the forces of modern times. Many renowned scholars and experts have been coming to Ladakh since 19th century to study various features of its history, culture, archaeology and ethnography. However these efforts have mainly been isolated from each other. Today the people of Ladakh are eager to make efforts to document, preserve and represent their culture through a new community platform - the Museum.

Contents

Message7
Preface8
Acknowledgements11
Central Asian Museum, Leh13
Why visit Museums?21
Museum in Ladakh27
The fully Inclusive Museum31
Better one Photograph than a thousand words: enhancing the Role of Photography in Indian Museums41
Importance of Museums in Ladakh53
Ladakh - Proposing Museum within a Museum57
The Historic Munshi House in Leh Old town63
Documentation of cultural Heritage and some Methodological Issues81
The making of a Participatory Museum87
Ladakh, an Open Museum and changing Landscape95
Needs for a Museum in Ladakh: A Perspective in the Changing cultural landscape99
Collection Ladakh: Representations of the Region in Public and private Collections105
Development of Buddhist Arts and Culture in ladakh and its neighbouring States in Himlayas117
Salient Features of Ladakhi Culture123
Four Phases of Cultural perception Leading133
Tibetan Art Objects from The Collection of Indian Museum139
The Museum as a Time Machine!149
Making of an Interpretive museum at Leh in Ladakh151
Rock Art of Ladakh: Prospective Open Museum of Petroglyphs167
Ajanta of Ladakh (Gon Nila-Phuk)175
Ladakh: An Example of Living Museum183
Tibet - A Journey to the Land of a Thousand Buddhas189
Need of a Museum193
Historical and Metaphysical Landscape of Ladakh in the Art of Nicholas Roerich197
Seeing Your Museum though the eyes of Visitiors203
Contributors208















Museums and Changing Cultural Landscape (Proceedings of the International Seminar)

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Preface

International Seminar on 'Museums and Changing Cultural Landscape' was organized by the department of Museology, National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology in collaboration with the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) from 2-4 September 2012 at the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS), Leh, Ladakh, India.

Ladakh is one of the highest inhabited places on earth, with a culture that remain isolated for centuries. The heritage, natural and cultural, of the region is unique an the community is close knit. This once isolated land is accessible like never before, every year more and more people from all over the world are visiting Ladakh. Interaction and exposure for both the groups, visitors and people of Ladakh, is enormous and it is bound to affect the ecology, nature and culture of Ladakh. Ladakh has the potential of becoming a melting pot of cross-fertilization of ideas and experience. The rich culture is being ruffled now by the ever-growing avalanche of tourists and the information explosion but only in tourist spots and in its only town, Leh. There is a growing realization of the need to preserve cultural traditions alongside balancing the pressures of modern needs. In recent years there has been an increasing insistence in Ladakh that there should be a museum in Leh showcasing all aspects of Ladakhi culture. There are many monasteries in Ladakh that serve as museums on Buddhist religion, art, and culture. Some of these monasteries have opened small museums and many others are in the process of setting up similar museums.

The aim of the international seminar, 'Museums and Changing Cultural Landscape' was to explore museums' potential to be platforms for documenting, representing, and communicating socio-cultural change in the context of Ladakh. The intent was that the seminar would help initiate the process of planning a museum for Ladakh in a manner appropriate to the people and region. The seminar traced a two-fold path running parallel yet connected - addressing the need for a museum in Ladakh and using this as a case study to question and explore the changing form and relevance of museum. Socio-cultural change and its unprecedented pace is a phenomenon which museums all over the world are struggling to deal with. It is being realized that museums have to become platforms reflecting, representing and communicating change in the society and its constantly changing needs.

This book aspires to collect, document and represent various aspects of Ladakhi heritage, life and culture in their tangible ad intangible manifestations. It seeks to explore ways not merely for preserving physical collections but also for connecting the younger generation with their own identity, for stimulating dialogue on the present issues concerning culture, and for providing a mechanism for understanding and channelizing the future course of cultural change. It also hopes to raise questions such as - In view of fast disappearing traditional community centers and cultural platforms can museums fill the void of documenting and representing socio-cultural heritage and identity?; How effective is the process of involving people at all levels of setting up a museum? Should the members of the community not answer whether they require a museum in the first place? If yes, then what should be the form, nature, characteristics, and functions of such a museum?

The seminar invited scholars of culture and heritage studies to discuss, share and advice on the possible forms of a museum for Ladakh. International scholars, museum experts and academicians attended the seminar from various parts of the world and India. Papers in this book are on various aspects of development of a museum, such as conceptualization, building of collections, documentation, communication, community participation, and intangible cultural heritage. Ladakhi scholars have written about the cultural history of Ladakh; the cultural similarities between Central Asia and Ladakh; collections within monasteries; memories and knowledge outside the Monasteries; the Islamic heritage of Ladakh; traditions of Ladakhi people; Intangible heritage of Ladakh. International scholars and scholars from other parts of India deliberate on theoretical and methodological issues such as: why visit museums? ; will the museum be active or a passive space? Who are the audience going to be? ; documentation of cultural heritage; Ladakh as a cultural and living museum; the process of conservation and reconstruction; the importance of keeping alive the link between the object and its context; the need for keeping the visitors at the heart of the museum; community as the stakeholder; cultural mapping; and more.

The seminar was accompanied by a photographic exhibition, 'The First Frames: In the Footsteps of Early Explorers". The exhibition brought to the people of Ladakh some of the earliest photographs of Ladakh and Tibet. The exhibition represented the collection of photographs and fresco tracings (1947-1949) of Li Gotami from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya (CSMVS), Mumbai; the photographs of the German archaeologist August Hermann Francke( 1909) from the digital photographic collection of the library of the University of Leiden; and archival photographs (1960s) of Ladakh from the photo archives of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The exhibition aspired to rekindle, in these fast-changing times, memories of earlier life, culture, architecture, and religion in the Western Himalayan region.

Since long there has been consciousness and awareness amongst the people of Ladakh about the preciousness of their culture and. its vulnerability and fragility to the forces of modern times. Many renowned scholars and experts have been coming to Ladakh since 19th century to study various features of its history, culture, archaeology and ethnography. However these efforts have mainly been isolated from each other. Today the people of Ladakh are eager to make efforts to document, preserve and represent their culture through a new community platform - the Museum.

Contents

Message7
Preface8
Acknowledgements11
Central Asian Museum, Leh13
Why visit Museums?21
Museum in Ladakh27
The fully Inclusive Museum31
Better one Photograph than a thousand words: enhancing the Role of Photography in Indian Museums41
Importance of Museums in Ladakh53
Ladakh - Proposing Museum within a Museum57
The Historic Munshi House in Leh Old town63
Documentation of cultural Heritage and some Methodological Issues81
The making of a Participatory Museum87
Ladakh, an Open Museum and changing Landscape95
Needs for a Museum in Ladakh: A Perspective in the Changing cultural landscape99
Collection Ladakh: Representations of the Region in Public and private Collections105
Development of Buddhist Arts and Culture in ladakh and its neighbouring States in Himlayas117
Salient Features of Ladakhi Culture123
Four Phases of Cultural perception Leading133
Tibetan Art Objects from The Collection of Indian Museum139
The Museum as a Time Machine!149
Making of an Interpretive museum at Leh in Ladakh151
Rock Art of Ladakh: Prospective Open Museum of Petroglyphs167
Ajanta of Ladakh (Gon Nila-Phuk)175
Ladakh: An Example of Living Museum183
Tibet - A Journey to the Land of a Thousand Buddhas189
Need of a Museum193
Historical and Metaphysical Landscape of Ladakh in the Art of Nicholas Roerich197
Seeing Your Museum though the eyes of Visitiors203
Contributors208















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