Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) and AusHeritage workshop, Guwahati – 25 Dec 2008

ASI Workshop stresses strategy to preserve museum collections

GUWAHATI, Dec 24 – The two-day workshop organised by the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI), Guwahati Circle jointly with the Ausheritage of Australia, on managing and protecting collections in the NE museums, came to an end here on Monday. This was the first such workshop organised by the ASI and AusHeritage on the subject in this remote part of the country.

The sessions of the workshop, which were assisted by Vinod Daniel, Chairman of the AusHeritage, Kristen Phillips and Justin Gare of the Ausheritage, among others, focussed on the major threats affecting artefacts and collections of the museums, salvaging water-damaged materials, collection mapping and the overall strategy to deal with the museum collections, were attended by representatives from the museums and libraries of the NE region.

The valedictory function of the workshop was addressed by RK Das, Secretary, Cultural Affairs of the State as the chief guest. He laid stress on evolving an effective strategy to preserve the museum collections of the region.

DR Gehlot, Joint Director General of the ASI spoke on the importance of disaster management methodology to suit the region’s geographical condition.

Dr SK Manjul, Superintending Archaeologist of the ASI Guwahati circle spoke on how the workshop was conceptualised. He also thanked Vinod Daniel, Kristin Phillips and Justin Gare for the technical support they extended to make the workshop successful.

Dr HN Dutta, Director, State Archaeology, offered the vote of thanks in the function. The Directorate of Archaeology and Museum also extended support to the workshop.

Earlier, inaugurating the workshop on Sunday, Vice Chancellor of Gauhati university (GU) Prof OK Medhi said that though the North Eastern part of the country is a melting point of divergent cultures, lack of infrastructure and expertise are hindering the conservation efforts to preserve archaeological materials and art objects. He asserted that the answer to most of the conservation-related problems lied in making the people aware of the importance of the archaeological and cultural objects in preserving cultural heritage of a society.

In his speech, Prof Medhi also announced that the GU academic fraternity had decided to go for an art and cultural heritage centre on the university campus. The feeling that there is a need of detail study to know the cultural heritage of the region led to the above decision, he said.

He regretted the fact that though a good number of families in the region own manuscripts in sizeable quantities, they are not willing to share these invaluable documents with the institutions for scientific study and preservation.

Delivering the keynote address in the function, Joint Director General of the ASI DR Gehlot laid stress on building earthquake-resistant structures for housing the museums on the region, referring the vulnerability of the region to earthquakes.

He also maintained that since the region has a record of high humidity, the preservation process of the artefacts should be designed to face this challenge.

Swapnanil Barua, Additional Secretary, Cultural Affairs, Govenment of Assam, Vinod Daniel, Chairman AusHeritage, Australia, Dr Sanjoy Kumar Manjul, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Guwahati Circle also addressed the function amongst others.

Representatives from the museums, libraries and archaeological departments of the NE states are attending the workshop, besides the Australian experts on conservation of archaeological and art objects Kristin Phillips and Justin Gare.