An Assessment of Community Inclusion in the Activities of Bahawalpur Museum, South Punjab Pakistan

Article excerpt

Introduction

A museum is a repository containing historical records, often unique or unpublished, which are intended for long-term preservation. It is a non-profit organization committed to preserving the historical record of a place, institution, people, activity or thing.

Museums, as institutional repositories of natural and cultural heritage, have a significant role to play within the community, a role which is advocated - or at least acknowledged - by society at large. The general mandate of museums to preserve and promote the intellectual and cultural heritage and enlighten society as to its heritage is a valued service despite being an enormous task (Mckellar, 1993).

Public heritage in museums facilities comprise physical assets that a community intends preserving indefinitely because of their cultural, historic, recreational or environmental importance. They are often referred to as "community assets", and this name encapsulates much of the nature and purpose of such facilities. They are maintained by the government for cultural, heritage, recreation and other community purposes rather than for the purposes of government administration or income generation (Barton, 2000).

Objectives of the Study

The main objectives of the study are:

* To explore how Bahawalpur Museum is contributing towards the social and cultural growth of its community

* To identify its policies and procedures in community inclusion for maximum accomplishment of its objectives and benefits to the community

To know the community's perception about museum's community-based activities

* To find out and suggest possible measure for further improvement

Research Design

The study employed six methods for data collection: (i) a document search; (ii) personal communications; (iii) the researchers' participation; (iv) a guided tour to the museum (v); a structured interview with Director; Bahawalpur Museum; (vi) and semi-structured interviews with local community members. Detailed structured interviews aiming to collect data and solicit qualitative information and suggestions for improvements was conducted with Director, Bahawalpur Museum and other staff members. Museum brochures, Leaflets, Pamphlets, Programmes & Events circulars and a guided tour to Galleries of museum were used for data collection.

Researchers also conducted semi-structured interviews with two hundred randomly selected community members i.e., business community, house wives, teachers, students from school to university levels, journalists, doctors, local television and radio artists and other society members.

Review of Related Studies

The literature shows that the British Museum UK has established a Clore Education Centre that enabled the Museum to expand its educational role. Its two auditoria are home to a daily programme of lectures, film and videos, as well as conferences, concerts and other performances related to cultural festivals or special exhibitions. Five additional multi-purpose rooms are also used for other programmes ranging from informal 'drop-in' sessions to courses for the general public and teacher training (the British Museum website).

The National Programme for Community-Based Museums Mexico (PNMC) supports community-based museums, highlighting the importance of community members as culture generators and carriers. The community museum is not only a place that harbors objects of the past, but also represents the possibility for community members to appear before others as subjects with history and participate in the course of both regional and local events. The creation process of the museum is also a collective process of reflection and acquisition of an idea of continuity and transformation (Mexico Community-Based Museums website).

Objectives of the Mexico Community-Based Museums Programme:

* Enables and advises on the technical aspects and practices of the Museographic process

* Generates links between communities and their cultural heritage, which allows for the formation of respect-based relations. …