Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)

Arts Research and Documentation

Grant Period: Over two years

Principal Investigator: O P Agrawal

INTACH is an autonomous non-governmental Indian non-profit society that seeks to preserve Indian culture and heritage. It was founded in 1984.

India has more than 400 museums, a significant proportion of them devoted to art and archaeology. Maintained by central and state governments, universities, private trusts and individuals, these museums are failing to realise their full potential as institutions for public education, providing a vital link between the community and its heritage.

Indian museums have not been subjected to a detailed, critical survey to pinpoint why they have failed to adopt new conservation techniques, lack trained personnel, offer inadequate visitor services, eschew innovative programming, or do not make optimal use of space and resources. This grant enables INTACH's subsidiary, the Advanced Centre for Conservation Research and Training, Lucknow, to gather and systematise information on the current state of art museums, as a basis for making policy recommendations and suggesting corrective measures.

Mr. O.P. Agrawal, a renowned conservation expert and Director General of INTACH’s Material Heritage Division in New Delhi, will provide overall leadership for the project. Under his guidance, a two-member research team led by Mrs. Usha Agrawal will collect information on art museums under different categories relating to their primary functions, namely, collection, documentation, preservation, exhibition, education, publication and visitor services.

Data will also be compiled on staff training programmes and the utilization of budgets and space. The information acquired from field surveys will be computerized using customized software, and later accessed and analysed to develop several action-oriented reports.

The survey will be undertaken using well-tested market research techniques. Questionnaires will be circulated and personal visits made to selected museums to examine collections and exhibitions; interact with visitors using the Visitor Response Assessment Methodology; assess the impact of educational programmes; review documentation systems; and interview administrative and technical staff. Discussion sessions and interviews with leading museologists, art historians, archaeolo­gists, and scientists will also be conducted to elicit their perspectives on museum development in India.

The ensuing report would identify the problems and shortcoming of museums, suggest corrective strategies and policy changes, and create new needs. The document would be shared and discussed with museum policy-makers, authorities, and administrators.