Museums fulfilling a Socio-Political Cause
Among various issues faced globally, that of identity has concurrently created headlines. So the same in Nepal, the recent political changes has highlighted the topic, consequently bringing about a revival for museums. For centuries Nepal remained a closed nation, reliant on religion and its scriptures for political, social, and cultural administration. In the mid19th CE, exposure to western trends made dramatic changes leading to the opening of the first museum, now the national museum in 1938 and many others followed. However, the museums did not ulfil its function as those of their western counterparts. They remained more as repositories of collection rather than centers of knowledge. After 1990, Nepal made a dramatic modification in its political status, becoming a Democratic state, the people were finally empowered. By 2005, minority communities were encouraged for equal participation in all sectors advocating a need for visibility of their presence. In this regard, the recently established museums stood ‘at the crossroad between ethnicity and identity politics’ (Toffin, 2019, p. 183). This paper explores these recently opened museums and explicates their role in engaging with new realities.
The Tharu, Tamo, Jyapu and Nepali Art museums are just some of these museums that opened in the principal regions of Nepal. Besides fulfilling a major role in preservation of culture and creating an awareness of multiculturalism, they reinforce collective identities, also engaging in a new form of indigenousness and recognition in the new socio-political landscape, leading to the development of the community at large.
Keywords: community, Identity, socio-politics, awareness, preservation, culture and heritage