Bangladesh National Museum in space crisis

Only a portion of the artifacts ever displayed

Ziaul Hasan | Published: 17:28, Jul 02,2017


Bangladesh National Museum can display maximum seven per cent of its total collection of 91,287 artifacts in its 45 galleries.

Due to space constrains, the museum officials said, the museum displays many items by rotation and never display some items.  And these items representing rich heritage, invaluable archaeological artifacts, classical and contemporary art, and belongings of many important personalities, rare musical instruments, ancient documents, and others are kept in storerooms.

‘What’s the benefit of preserving items if those are not displayed for public,’ said Jamal Ahmed a visitor.

Noted artist and dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University Nisar Hossain also shared his concern with New Age. ‘The museum has 817 paintings of artist Shilpachariya Zainul Abedin in possession but it displays only a small portion of them,’ said Nisar Hossain. ‘Most of the priceless paintings are stored in the storerooms which is not the best way of preserving artworks,’ he added.

The museum, which receives a number of its artifacts from public donations, has been accused by the donators of not displaying the donated items.

Nazrul singer and great granddaughter of national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam Khil Khil Kazi expressed her dissatisfaction regarding the lack of interest of the museum in displaying memorabilia of Kazi Nazrul Islam. ‘A few years back there was a Nazrul corner showcasing memorabilia of the poet in them museum. Now the corner is no more and only a few images of Nazrul are on display at one of the galleries,’ she said.

Eminent singer Ferdausi Rahman said she was frustrated as the museum did not display the belongings of her father folk maestro Abbasuddin Ahmed, which she had donated to the museum two decades ago.

‘I donated some belongings of my late father to the museum around 20 years ago when my mother was alive. I donated them on my own accord though other members of my family were not interested,’ the eminent singer told New Age.

The items donated by Ferdausi to the museum included a gramophone Abbsuddun Ahmed received as a gift from HMV, postcards on which Abbasuddin Ahmed wrote Rabindranath Tagore’s short stories, his jaynamaz, spectacles and many other things. However, Ferdausi expressed her dissatisfaction as the museum authorities never displayed the donated items.

 ‘When I donated the items to the museum they were already very old and now they have been kept in the storeroom for 20 years. I really wonder about the current condition of the items,’ said Ferdousi, who has asked the museum to return the donated items but the museum authority is yet to return her late father’s belongings.

Secretary of the museum Mohammad Shawkat Nabi told told New Age that the museum authority is planning to build a 12-storey building right behind the main museum building to address the shortage of display space. ‘We will transfer all the administrative and curatorial office to the new building and this old building will completely be used for display purposes,’ told Nabi, who also added that the conversation department of the museum is tirelessly working to ensure that the artifacts in store rooms are well preserved.       

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