The Indian Music Experience is a fairly new (established late 2018) addition to the museum scene in Bangalore. We recently visited this place located in a Southern suburb of the city.
The entry compound has a variety of novel musical ‘instruments’ that visitors can interact with. Children will especially like making ‘music’ on these installations.
The music experience starts on the third floor of this interestingly designed building. This section talks about the developments in popular Indian music over the past few decades before leading visitors to the classical music section. The exhibits are beautifully laid out with ample listening stations for visitors to hear representative music. There are also interactive exhibits where visitors can choose their musical instruments and they can instantly hear what an orchestra composed of their selected instruments sounds like.
The journey continues on the second floor where visitors can learn more about the development of film and folk music. The second floor also contains a large two storey wall installation composed of the various types of musical instruments played in India. One can also choose a instrument to listen to how it sounds.
The second floor also includes a set-up of a recording studio where visitors can experience the feel of recording the vocals on a song and also get their ‘song’ emailed to them.
The highlight, for me, was to see the actual shehnai and cap worn by Ustad Bismillah Khan. This section also has the tanpura and sari worn by M. S. Subbulakshmi as well as clothes and silver paan box belonging to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.
The entry fee seemed steep initially, but it is well worth it for the wealth of information presented inside. We spent a little over two hours, but one can easily spend twice that time in this world-class museum.
I read an article today in the Hindustan Times about family-run museums. It was an interesting article. I personally find it a bit sad that we in India do not have much of a museum visiting and appreciating culture. Many people, I believe, just do not think of museums are not seen as a must-visit place. It could partly be because our memories of museums, from the time when we used to visit museums as part of school trips, are of dusty places with old artifacts gathering dust.
But the reality is different. Yes, I am sure there still exist some museums where it feels like time has stood still. A good example of this is the Jaganmohan Palace Art Gallery in Mysore. With its priceless paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and others, it would have been a must visit destination in many Western cities. But here, while it had a good crowd of visitors, the exhibits themselves looked in urgent need of some tender care. It would be a shame if these works of art are lost to future audiences due to apathy.
On the other hand, there are many good museums dotted around the country such as the HAL Museum in Bangalore, the Archaeology museum in Hampi, the Naval Heritage Museum and Seashell museum in Mahabalipuram, which are as good, if not better, than many museums that I have been fortunate to visit across the globe. These have interesting exhibits displayed in a clean space with ample facilities. But unfortunately, other than the first one which had a decent crowd the day I visited, in the others, we were pretty much the only people there.
I believe museums have a very vital role to play in the preservation and dissemination of the culture of a place, especially when that culture is in serious threat of vanishing under the ever expanding tentacles cast by the homogenisation of culture due to globalisation. Museums are a place where we can still feel connected to our roots. It is hard to not feel a sense of pride when we observe the Indian exhibits at the British Museum in London, placed alongside similar exhibits from culture around the world.
So a humble request. The next time you visit a place, in India or anywhere in the world, please do take some time off to visit a local museum. If you have kids or youngsters under your care, please take them too and let them soak in the experience and help them understand the significance of the exhibits. Let’s take some small steps to help preserve the memories of our rich culture and heritage.
Digital marketer, travel / culture / heritage enthusiast