Museums have different meanings for different people, for some they are the places of wonder and mystery while others may think of them as the place for the storage or upkeep of old things, which might or might not be intriguing. The aim of 21st century museums or as we call them “New Age Museums” is making the museums accessible for all at a physical level and at intellectual level. Being the houses of histories and memories, such museums do take pride in shaping one’s perception of the object and understanding the concept. Interests and emotions of the audiences are of utmost value for such museums.
There are many museums in India which are coming up with innovative and comprehensible for audiences. One such hidden treasure in the form of museum is located within the industrial belt on Bilaspur Taoru Road Gurgaon, roughly 25 kms away from Manesar and 7 kms off NH 8. The Heritage Transport Museum is a placewhere the interests of various segment of audiences find their melting pot. The museum is built out of the labour of love and passion of Mr. Tarun Thakral who is also the founder and Managing Trustee of the museum. The museum houses the valuable pieces of history which are woven together to narrate the story of the evolution of transport. It is a comprehensive museum presenting an essential part of the human civilization ‘Transport’ which has brought the cultures closer. The priceless collection has been built up by Mr. Thakral himself over a span of more than 20 years.
There are many reasons why one should visit the museum irrespective of age and interest, because
it is a place of nostalgia for some, and a space of visual delight for others, heaven for auto enthusiasts, learning sanctuary for history buffs, and a place of creativity and innovation for art lovers. Each segment of audience is going to enjoy the amazing bites of museum hospitality.
The beautiful collection which is laid in the form of thematic galleries includes transport of all kinds ranging from old wheels, carriages, railways, cars, buses, scooters, airplanes,
indigenous transport and boats. Apart from that various archival photographs and posters are used to create a vivid context. The collectible items in the form of lamps, enamel sign boards, radios, gramophone players, old cameras, toys, oil cans and different grocery boxes and old finials are brought in to create an interesting display of a time period.
The museum has adopted a unique technique of display by creating an atmosphere where the objects, which are the portals of past holdremarkable power to evoke the memories. The audiences are overwhelmed with emotions when they see the model of the car they bought or drove first, when they catch a glimpse of a similar scooter that was part of their wedding gift, or when they look at the radio which resembles the one by which they once entertained the whole ‘mohalla’.As one steps in the car gallery it transports you back to the streets of pre independent India with backdrop of shops on one side and set up of petrol station using old dispensers and cans on the other side. While the railway collection stimulates the romance of steam travelling, and the bus section appears more like a live bus depot.
The architecture of the museum allows the collection to interact with each other, and the museum space becomes an experimental ground for artists. The addition of art element has played a significant role in the display technique, after all viewing an art work always brings joy. The art works find their place in the form of sculptures, installations and folk and tribal paintings. Even the utilitarian spaces in the museum are not left untouched of the element of art, be it the door handles which are made of handles of bike, the giant traffic tree in the outdoors resembling a Christmas Tree or the reception desk which is carved out of an old Morris Minor car. One can also take note of the paintings and drawings on the vehicles which draws attention towards the practice of decorating vehicles like jugaads (contraption made with bike and cart fixed together), rickshaws and especially trucks in South east Asian countries.Moreover, the fine craftsmanship can be found in old palanquins, finials and carriages which served not only as the means of conveyance but also pieces of fine craftsmanship.
Your visit shall be accompanied by a standard audio guide that will take care of the history and interesting facts about various objects on display. It is provided in English as well as Hindi, and, the special curated tours are organised for schools and other closed groups. Asthe different sections of the museum recount their own tales be it the story of wheel, early 20th century carriages or the engined vehicles, yet at the same time they are interlinked with each other through the common thread that is the ‘evolution of transport’.
Time to time museum carries out special festivals and programmes e.g running of old steam locomotive or other special museum activities for children and families. In order to reach out to the special events and programmes of the museum it is recommended to keep an eye on its social media pages for regular updates.
One can plan a visit to the museum without any pre conceived notion since it is going be a different and unique experience for each segment of audience. Come, See, Experience at Heritage Transport Museum.
Ragini Bhat is Curator at Heritage Transport Museum, Gurgaon