Market Potential and Training Dispensation in the Museums of the South Asia Association of Regional Countries (SAARC)*
Prof. A K Das, National Museum Institute, New Delhi, India The Indian sub-continent is a region of diverse cultures that emanated from the ashes of 5000 years of a timeless civilisation. Historically a region of the convergence of cultures that penetrated from Northwest as well as Southeast Asia. Surprisingly, advent of any maritime cultures from Indian Ocean in the south is not formidable. Because of the amalgamation of varieties of cultures in the Indian subcontinent, a unique heritage of material culture has become testimony of long history. Varieties of ancient monuments (several world heritage monuments), archaeological sites, multiplicity of movable heritage materials such as pottery, terracotta, sculptures, coins, inscriptions, paintings and a large body of ephemeral materials have bridged the historical continuity since 3000 BC
When we talk about the intangible heritage of this region, the apparent richness is beyond description. The epic tradition appeared as the myth or oral history during the post Harappa period and continued in time and space in the same spirit and vigour. The manifestation of the oral history in multiple media of communication with the flow of time and marked its existence in a host of performing arts both in classical form as well as folk performances even in the contemporary time drawing inspiration from the ancient epic tradition and oral history. The intangible heritage makes our culture vibrant with the passing of time. Nowhere in the world such as a diverse living tradition outlining an interesting cultural interface could possibly be witnessed. This particular scenario shows the heritage potential that we have in this region in form of ancient monuments and sites, timeless tangible artefacts in museums and heritage institutions and the scattered intangible heritage materials in the nooks and corners of this region. These potential tangible heritage materials match the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and oriental collection in different Asian countries. More so, the intangible heritage, a large body of which are still living and in practice, have no comparison in the world.
There is no doubt that the scope of museum marketing in this region is absolutely a solid area of museum’s sustainable development. Yet the scenario is not as bright as it should have been as compared to the museums of the west. What is the demography of the visitors in this region? Is there any visitors profile giving the details of the gender composition, literacy, economic level, rural- urban statistics etc? What are the museum training needs in relation market-driven pressu5res on museums. There is no doubt that a considerable section of the population in this region is illiterate and economically backward. We are yet to have a profile of these people in relation to museum visits. There is no denying of the fact that museums should reach these people even if they are to put extra effort and go out beyond its citadel. It is important to find out the facts and figures in this respect concerning the museum visitors. This paper will consider a number of key questions in relation to this, including: is there any reliable profile at least in some important museums of this region and what are the facilities the visitors expect from the museum that may induced them to come to the museum again and again?
One example from Nepal will be cited: the Patan Palace Museum in Kathmandu, which was redesigned with foreign collaboration, and not only gives a modern look in its presentation but also an integrated marketing package specially outlined for the foreign visitors.
Some other museums are opening up for collaboration with market-oriented museums of the west in specific programmes, with projects including the exhibition of the Padshanama at the National Museum, New Delhi in 1997 followed by the Enduring Image from British Museum have created an imprint on museum marketing in this region. There is also a need to develop training programmes to cover this area.
There are six universities in India offering Museology course at postgraduate and diploma level which have the required infrastructure to conduct regular in service training programme in museum marketing. What is lacking is the ‘trainer’ in this particular field. In the first instance a trainer’s training programme have to be conducted so as to create a group of resource persons in the field