The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) opened its third branch in Bengaluru in 2009. I was the first assistant curator to be appointed at this branch. Like all new organizations, NGMA too had several teething issues. Support from the other two older NGMAs (Delhi and Mumbai) was limited. Many a times, we wished we could connect with some association or museum community to discuss our challenges and get feedback and advice from experts in the field. We even looked around for a forum, magazine or newsletter to update ourselves with what was happening in other museums in India. I found two organizations and tried to become a member. Unfortunately, it has been four years and I still have not heard from them. I realized that museums in India work in relatively unsupported environment.
In 2012 I was selected for a two week training program at the V&A London, the world’s largest museum for decorative arts and design. This trip was an eye opener! I got to experience first-hand the best practices of a world class museum. The presentations, site visits and practical exercises emphasized the various facets of audience development, the importance of interpretation, and enhancing visitor services.
This training proved to be highly beneficial and I was able to implement the learnings back at NGMA, Bengaluru. This trip was memorable for another reason. It was during this trip that the idea for Rereeti first came to me. Along with working at the museum, many staff members at the V&A would go for conferences and training programmes. I realized that UK had a very strong community of museum professionals who were active and involved in collectively solving challenges faced by them: I wished India, too, had such a network.
At the beginning of this year I conducted an informal study and the results reflected a clear demand for a platform where museum professionals can interact, network and develop their skills. Reeti in Sanskrit means traditions and museums are holders of traditions. It is our mission to Revitalize these spaces, hence Re-Reeti. We see ourselves as opportunity creators for museum professionals to connect, share, learn, and collectively solve challenges which they face.
The services offered can be broadly divided into two classifications: 1. Our major area of work is to conduct capacity building training programmes and host conferences for museum professionals. 2. Our second area of work is to provide consultation to museums and cultural organizations in the field of research, documentation, learning, and design solutions. The first step towards this was to gather information about the number and types of museums in India.
ReReeti, as part of a larger museum mapping exercise funded by the British Council, has documented many museums in south India. This report will be shortly available on this website. We have documented only a small percentage of museums and I urge all of you to write to us if you would like to include your museum in this study. This is a small beginning for the consultancy and we hope, a step in the right direction.
Happy Museum Monday! – TJ
About the Author
Tejshvi Jain is the founding director of Rereeti and worked at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore prior to setting up this non-profit organization.