Today (August 7) is the centennial anniversary of Bangladesh National Museum. Bangladesh National Museum, one of the most important and largest museums in Asia, is dedicated to the collection, preservation, display and study of history, heritage, culture and natural history.
On August 7, 1913 Lord Carmichael, Governor of Bengal, inaugurated the Dhaka Museum at a single room of the Secretariat (the present Dhaka Medical College) in Dhaka, the capital of the new Province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. The Museum was opened to the public on August 25, 1914. The Dhaka Museum was transferred to the Baraduari and Deuri of the Naib-Nazim of Dhaka in July 1915. Bangladesh National Museum incorporating the Dhaka Museum was established on September 20 and formally inaugurated on November 17, 1983.
Through the passage of time the museum has expanded its sphere of activity and is developing gradually into a multipurpose modern museum. At present four branches of the museum--Osmany Museum, Ahasan Manzil Museum, Zia Memorial Museum and Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin Sangrahashala--are being administered by Bangladesh National Museum (BNM). Projects are underway for the establishment of three more museums.
Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, contributed enormously to the establishment of Bangladesh National Museum. In 1972 the Dhaka Museum Board of Trustees submitted a scheme to the Government for the development of BNM. Realising the importance of this institution for the preservation of national heritage, Bangabandhu took the initiative for the expansion of the Museum.
The BNM has embarked upon a new phase of development through implementation of three programmes called “Two Thematic Exhibitions at Bangladesh National Museum”, “Bangladesh National Museum's Information Communication and Digitalization”, and “Modernization, Reform and Development of Security Measures at Bangladesh National Museum”.
The first programme relates to reinstallation of four galleries with objects that mainly focus on the struggle of our people for independence in two segments: independence from colonial British rule in 1947 and independence from Pakistan in 1971. Multimedia, such as digital imaging, touch screens, light and sound, have been applied in presenting two thematic exhibitions in these four galleries.
The second programme is digitalisation of the documentation system through which researchers will have access electronically to each object with its photograph, description and other relevant information. The third programme is a modernised security system of the BNM with the latest audio-visual and other electronic devices.
The future plan of the BNM is to remodel all the other galleries. The modern approach to didactic presentation will be introduced by way of displaying objects in historical sequence and by blending both tangible and intangible culture into one harmonious experience for visitors. The storage system of the Bangladesh National Museum will be modernized.
Celebrating the centenary of the museum, a two-year long programme featuring exhibitions, discussions, seminars and special programmes for children were held. President Md. Abdul Hamid inaugurated the main programme of the two- year festival on July 8, 2013. Souvenir currency and stamps was released. Souvenir shop and month long exhibition of artefacts of four curatorial departments was inaugurated. A two-day international seminar was held where 38 articles were presented on museology, archaeology numismatics, epigraphy, iconography, conservation, preservation, architecture, settlement, art, painting, folklore, cultural heritage, history, theology and philosophy. Fifteen experts from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Korea, Switzerland and Japan participated in the seminar.
The concluding ceremony will be held on September 7. The centenary commemorative volume will be published the same day.
Jahangir Hussain is a Keeper, Department of Contemporary Art & World Civilization, Bangladesh National Museum.