Rs.200 cr: museum in pune, Indian History museum

19 09 2007
Pune is being honoured again, because of its rich culture and convenient location. The city has been chosen to house a Rs 200 crore project on Indian history. Called the India Memory Foundation (IMF), it will showcase both India over the centuries including Vedic knowledge and the India of tomorrow. Behind the effort is a Frenchman, journalist Francois Gautier, who will raise the funds from private donors.
The project is located on an acre of land near Lohegaon airport and will be ready in the next two years.
There will be a phase-wise construction, starting with a painting exhibition on Chhatrapati Shivaji that will be ready by 2008. “My aim is to take a frank look at India’s history over the centuries. Not too much is spoken about Vedic history, astrology and maths. I want to highlight those aspects. Also, we want to show how India has been envisioned by Aurobindo, Lokmanya Tilak, Swami Vivekanand and others. Hence, the focus will be on the India of tomorrow,” says Gautier, who has initiated the museum through his organisation, Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT). There will be special sections on China and Tibet in reference to India’s cultural, social, political and social changes that will be a crucial part of this interactive museum.
Seven projects for the IMF are underway — an exhibit on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits which was a much-lauded effort, an exhibition on the persecution of Christians, Buddhists, Amadya Muslims and Hindu minorities in Bangladesh, a painting exhibition on Aurangzeb based on Mughal records and documents and another one on the birth of Sikhism. Most importantly, an exhibition on Shivaji and two films — one on the 1947 Partition holocaust and the other on the poor condition of Brahmins and other upper castes — are in the production stage and will be ready by early next year. “We plan to have 30 such projects over the next five years,” says Gautier, who will be bringing the Aurangzeb exhibition to Pune in the second week of October.
The museum complex will be designed by architect Dharmesh Jadeja using environmentally friendly material like mud bricks, stones and solar energy, that are common in Auroville where Gautier resides. The project is headed by a prestigious Board of Directors comprising Indian Archaeological Society chairman S P Gupta, Indian Council of Philosophical Research chairman Dr Kireet Joshi, Lal Bahadur Shastri Museum director Professor A K Dass and others.
And Pune has been chosen after much deliberation. “Chhatrapati Shivaji grew up here. The city has a rich cultural heritage. But most importantly, it’s centrally located and can be easily accessible from any part of the country,” adds Gautier.
Each of the exhibitions has one researcher. Being essentially travelling exhibitions, they’ll be making the rounds in Indian cities and abroad, before they find a permanent place at the IMF. “I’m even thinking of doing an exhibition on Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb’s brother,” says Gautier, who is also obtaining research assistance from eminent Pune-based historians like Dr Babasaheb Purandare and Gajanan Mehendale.