These Indian museums work to spread the message of climate change-Art and Culture News , Firstpost

A new initiative called Museum of India Against Climate Change (IMACC), is spearheading this movement in our country. Launched by the Bengaluru-based non-profit organization ReReeti, the event brings together eight museums across the country to work towards this common cause.

As a solo traveler exploring the beautiful countries of Spain and Portugal in my 20s, one afternoon that stands out the most in my memory is when I visited the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. I remember vividly rejecting the horrors of war in Picasso’s Guernica, being shocked and moved in equal measure by the vivid imagery of Dali’s works, and intrigued by the message underlying Miro’s abstract forms. Closer to home, I remember one of the many interesting and educational pre-pandemic visits to the National Museum in New Delhi, where I saw an exhibit exploring the dietary practices of the Indus Valley people, millions of years ago. This museum visit – one highlight of adult travel and the other a history lesson – is a testament to the influence museums have on people.

Museums are many things – storehouses of artistic and cultural artifacts, educational media, places where history is preserved, and perhaps most importantly, tools for driving change through its vast reach. Therefore, when it comes to spreading the message about the biggest crisis on the planet – climate change – it is the museums that must take the lead. A new initiative called Museum of India Against Climate Change (IMACC), is spearheading this movement in our country.

Launched by the Bengaluru-based non-profit organization ReReeti, the event brings together eight museums across the country to work towards this common cause. “IMACC is the organization’s effort to make India’s museum sector cleaner, greener and more sustainable. IMACC is the local cultural center of India declaring Emergency, which is a growing global movement of people in arts and culture who believe that the cultural sector can take the lead in creating a regenerative future that protects the planet,” explains Tejshvi Jain, Founder-Director of ReReeti Foundation. .

Since launching in 2015, the organization has designed and implemented programs to bring museums and cultural institutions closer to the public and help them engage with their audiences. Their team seeks to empower museums to reach their full potential, regardless of whether they are just starting out or are established.

These Indian museums are working to spread the message of climate change

For its latest project, ReReeti chose to focus on the climate crisis impacting people and their environment. Their program attempts to combat this crisis by working with museums to adopt a three-step approach, as a starting point for mitigating the impact of our collective action. Jain describes these three points as, “We work with museums to guide them in exploring climate change through their collections and the history they tell. Museums will declare their way of fighting climate change through practice in the organization’s operations. We also collaborate with museums to support institutional initiatives such as capacity building workshops for museum professionals to train them in methods of fighting climate change. Furthermore, we have held our first quarterly meeting with the museum to evaluate the progress of the IMACC and discuss next steps. We will do what is possible to allow dialogue and expression among our communities about how the emergency will affect them and the changes needed.”

As a pilot project, they have started the initiative with eight museums which include Arna Jharna in Jodhpur, Dakshina Chitra Heritage Museum in Chennai, Indian Music Experience in Bengaluru, Kiran Nadar Art Museum in Delhi, Kerala Museum in Kochi, Museum of Art and Photography in Bengaluru, Christian Art Museum in Goa, and Museo Camera in Gurugram.

In-depth monitoring and surveys were carried out by the ReReeti team to determine which museums would be part of this initiative. The main factor for selection was responsive leadership who was open to radical and new approaches, who did not need to be convinced of the benefits of the program. Second, the team wants to include representatives from remote parts of the country. They also want to work with museums that showcase diversity of thought through their collections, to ensure that the message will spread in multiple ways and lead to a richer overall experience.

Their careful selection was also validated by museum representatives. Akansha Rastogi, Senior Curator at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) said, “Being part of the IMACC movement is our priority at KNMA. We want to think about sustainability, the climate footprint, the energy orbit around art and museums along with our other visitors, artists and museums. We also want to be able to use artistic expression to bring awareness and awareness about the climate crisis. To achieve this goal, KNMA will soon launch our first book entitled ‘Museums and Sustainability’ led by artist and environmentalist Ravi Agarwal and our team of curators. This book has been prepared as a workbook and invitation to all museum visitors. This summer, we are also working to develop an engagement module in relation to museum collections and climate change stories.”
While KNMA is preparing for its first project, other museums are also taking their commitments seriously. On April 6, all eight museums took part in ReReeti’s first quarterly workshop held on Zoom. Called ‘Putting Green Lenses on Museum Collections’, it is facilitated by the Climate Museum in the UK. The workshops teach museum participants to take a closer look at their objects and find links to the climate crisis, as these relationships may not be apparent at first glance.

These Indian museums are working to spread the message of climate change

Jain explained, “Regularly, each museum will post something from their collection that talks about sustainability through the objects on display. We are amazed by the overwhelming response we have received so far. We thought museums would take a year or two to get used to these major changes, but many are ready to go. The Indian Music Experience (IME) in Bengaluru has launched its first exhibition dedicated to this purpose.” The exhibition highlights the ecological aspects with a focus on bird chirping displayed through bird-inspired musical instruments, audio-visual kiosks featuring bird calls, and graphic panels. Jains love to see museums take over and become instruments of change in such a simple way. “We become a stronger voice when we work together,” he asserts.
Climate change, although a matter of serious global concern, remains to be taken seriously in most parts of India. Therefore, art and culture may be the best medium for realizing lasting societal acceptance. As India is a very complex country with a lot of diversity, the IMACC initiative of ReReeti through its eight participating museums – all with distinctive artistic sensibilities and diverse target audiences – hopes to translate this commitment into reality in the most expansive and engaging way possible.

Noor Anand Chawla writes lifestyle articles for his various publications and blogs www.nooranandchawla.com. He can be reached at nooranand@gmail.com.

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