By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, May 14: At a time when special importance is being given to conservation and restoration of cultural heritage all across the country and the world, Manipur State Museum is suffering a set-back when it comes to fost- ering the State’s heritage due to the State Government’s apathy.
More than a hundred archaic and valuable relics and articles, including those related with ancient Mani-puri kings and royal fami- lies, are not displayed at the museum owing to absence of appropriate galleries and security measures.
Many valuable articles were collected or donated to the museum from different parts of the State and some of the items even date back to the 17th century and 18th century.
According to Mrinashree Mairembam, Curator of Manipur State Museum, Imphal, there is a need to develop a “royal gallery” for showcasing valuable objects related to ancient kings and royal families of the State.
She said that maintaining a royal gallery requires a royal outlook and asserted that such galleries are being maintained in a very special manner in other parts of the country.
She lamented that Manipur State Museum can do nothing in practice, even though there are many developmental aspects and plans to improve the museum, due to financial constraints.
The allocated budget for the museum for minor works for 2019-20 under the Art and Culture Department, Manipur, is just Rs 7.33 lakh. As such it is not possible to carry out any construction or renovation works with the meagre budget. With the allocated budget, it is even hard to run the maintenance works of the museum, she added.
Currently, the museum has eight different galleries, namely ethnological gallery, archaeological gallery, art gallery, children’s gallery, musical instrument gallery, Hiyang Hiren (royal boat) shed, natural history gallery and Jalan’s gallery.
The archaeological gallery, being the only one of its kind among all the museums of the North East region, attracts a large amount of visitors. The said gallery was added in Manipur State Museum along with the musical instrument gallery in January 10, 2014.
Saying that the number of visitors coming to Manipur State Museum has never dwindled although the number varies during off season and peak season, she informed that the museum, on the other hand, is plagued by acute shortage of staff.
The museum is manned by 16 staff and most of the posts in the museum are filled on in-charge basis as no staff have been appointed. Some important posts, including Additional Curator, are also vacant although the said posts were created in the past.
She also claimed that the museum's revenue collection from April last year to March this year, is Rs 3,60,000 while the total number of foreign tourists visiting the museum during the said period is just 109.
Highlighting the future prospects, Mrinashree conveyed that the authorities of the museum are planning to pursue Central funding to improve the museum.
Based on feedback from some visitors at the museum, it was learned that they desired new features at the museum.
They (visitors) also stated that the Manipur State Museum happens to be the only substantial museum in the State.
They also underscored the role of museum in exposing the State’s archaic and heritage for educational and historical purposes.