LSE South Asia Centre is delighted to be academic advisor to The Partition Museum Project, which is being set up in Amritsar (India) by The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust (TACHT). The Centre will harness LSE’s cutting-edge interdisciplinary resource base in furthering the aims of this project, and advise in organising outreach events and publications aimed at impacting public knowledge and raising awareness about the Partition Museum both in India and in the United Kingdom.
The Museum will be the first of its kind, dedicated to the memory of the Partition of India in 1947 — its victims, its survivors and its lasting legacy. The Government of Punjab has recently allotted the historic Town Hall in Amritsar to house the museum.
This historic building has witnessed a tumultuous century, and is a 5-minute walk from Jallianwala Bagh, the scene of the massacre of thousands of women, children and peaceful protestors by General Reginald Dyer in 1919, and is also very close to the historic Golden Temple.
From left: Martys Well, Amritsar; Bullet-marked wall, Jallianwala Bagh, Amritstar
It is part of a heritage zone, and is a 30-minute drive from Wagah, which marks the boundary between India and Pakistan.
The partition of the subcontinent by the British in 1947, and the creation of a 3-part, 2-nation map (West & East Pakistan (the latter now Bangladesh), and India) witnessed the largest mass migration that humanity had ever known. In one of the greatest and most painful upheavals of contemporary history, over fourteen million migrated to a new homeland on the other side of a quickly demarcated border, leaving behind precious memories. This is a poignant yet powerful story, which has never been told before within an experiential museum, anywhere in the world.
The Museum will thus raise the veil of silence that surrounds Partition. The Museum is thus, principally, a people’s museum, with oral histories and narratives gathered from their experiences of migration, along with documents, art, music, photographs and other memorabilia. As the affected generation passes on with the passage of time, there is a particular to record their stories, gathering both their memories and their memorabilia.
The Museum is also planned as a resource centre for the study and understanding of the Partition. It will be a state-of-the-art, interactive museum using digital technology and audio visuals, catering to the interest of all age groups and accessible to the masses. Since its launch in early 2015, the project has received enormous national and international support, and media attention. Several universities, institutions, museums and private archives have helped to gather sources, including oral histories, documents, artefacts, and other materials.
From left: Lady Kishwar Desai with former BBC South Asia Correspondent Mark Tully (extreme right) and a colleague at the Town Hall, Amritsar; Restoration Work underway in the Town Hall, Amritsar
If you’d like to be involved in this project, you can help with research (in various archives, scattered all over the world) and gathering of oral histories. The Museum request all those who have a Partition story in their families, or know someone who does, to contact the project. You can also record the story (for Guidelines of recording stories, please get in touch here) and send it on to the Museum. There is a particular appeal to grandchildren to record stories of their grandparents to be preserved in the Museum's archives.
TACHT is a charitable NGO, and the Museum is being set up through crowd-sourcing donations. If you would like to donate, details are available on the Partition Museum Project's home page.
The Partition Museum Project
Chair: Lady Kishwar Desai
Photo credit from left tro right: Stefan Krasowski, CC BY 2.0; Diego Delso, CC-BY-SA 3.0.