Dr Bhau Daji Lad City Mu­seum con­ducts first train­ing work­shop for Mum­bai Po­lice to lay ground­work for forth­com­ing mu­seum

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Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mu­seum trains 40 Mum­bai po­lice staff in run up to 2019 launch of Po­lice Mu­seum and Archives

FOR three days in late Au­gust, as vis­i­tors ex­plored Dr Bhau Daji Lad (BDL) Mu­seum at By­culla, the city’s old­est, they would’ve barely no­ticed a group that was closely study­ing its arte­facts and dis­plays, and lis­ten­ing with stu­dent-like at­ten­tion to mu­seum staff mem­bers who guided them around the land­mark’s trea­sures with equal in­tent.

Turns out, this group, a team of 40 men and women from the city’s po­lice force, were par­tic­i­pants of the in­au­gu­ral ca­pac­ity build­ing and train­ing work­shop con­ducted by the BDL. This pro­gramme is the first step to­wards sen­si­tis­ing and cre­at­ing aware­ness for the Mum­bai Po­lice Mu­seum and Archives that is sched­uled to open to the pub­lic next year within the premises of the Po­lice Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice near Craw­ford Mar­ket. The ses­sion cov­ered ar­eas from man­age­ment and care of ex­hibits to pre­ven­tive con­ser­va­tion out­reach pro­grammes, and man­ag­ing of peo­ple.

Her­itage in khaki

“Four-five years ear­lier, I had done a sur­vey of the state’s mu­se­ums af­ter Dr AP Jamkhan­dekar, noted scholar, had pointed out that train­ing fa­cil­i­ties to im­prove the mu­se­ums of the state were lack­ing. A year ago, we (BDL) had writ­ten to the Min­istry of Cul­ture (Ma­ha­rash­tra) to sug­gest that our space and 360-de­gree ex­per­tise could be used as a train­ing ground. About three months ago, the then Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice (Mum­bai) and now state Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, Dat­ta­tray Pad­sal­gikar ap­proached us, sug­gest­ing that we plan a pro­gramme for their per­son­nel (all at se­nior po­lice in­spec­tor level) in light of the com­mis­sioned mu­seum and archives cen­tre,” shares Tas­neem Mehta, Man­ag­ing Trustee for Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mu­seum and former vice chair­man of INTACH, about how the two in­sti­tu­tions got associated with each other.

“In the late 1980s and 90s, we had a space where ar­ti­facts, archives and vin­tage po­lice uni­forms were stored. I felt that such trea­sures should be a part of our her­itage, and so we de­cided to fruc­tify this idea,” shares Pad­sal­gikar. The former Mum­bai top cop cred­its Mehta and the BDL Mu­seum for giv­ing wings to the idea. “We had to start train­ing our staff who would have to help set up this mu­seum from scratch,” adds Pad­sal­gikar, who picks the Wash­ing­ton and Lon­don Po­lice Mu­se­ums, and the FBI Mu­seum as most im­pres­sive.

Work­ing model

The three-day work­shop was con­ducted in Marathi, and Hi­man­shu Kadam, as­sis­tant cu­ra­tor at BDL Mu­seum, who helmed the ini­tia­tive, was faced with sev­eral chal­lenges even be­fore he stood at the podium to wel­come th­ese 40 par­tic­i­pants. “We had to start from zero as it was an ab­so­lutely alien con­cept. To ex­plain mu­seum ter­mi­nol­ogy and other re­lated glos­saries in a sim­plis­tic way, we had to break things down at ev­ery level. An­i­ma­tion videos were cre­ated to of­fer an idea of the work­ings of mu­se­ums. Vir­tual tours of po­lice mu­se­ums in Lon­don and New York en­sured ses­sions didn’t get too the­o­ret­i­cal,” he re­calls, shar­ing how the mu­seum staff also had cer­tain as­sump­tions that had to be tweaked as ses­sions pro­gressed. “At the end of each one, I would throw the topic open to them for ques­tions, an­swer each one, and move ahead,” adds Kadam.

The group was picked from an in­ter­nal se­lec­tion process held at the Com­mis­sioner’s of­fice, re­veals Pad­sal­gikar, and com­prised per­son­nel from their late 20s to their 50s. “Nat­u­rally, we had to keep this in mind at ev­ery stage of the pro­gramme, be­fore mov­ing to specifics,” Kadam shares. “We had to re­mind our­selves that they had no back­ground in the arts and his­tory. At the same time, we had to con­vey the im­por­tance of run­ning a sus­tain­able model that also in­volves as­pects like in­ven­tory man­age­ment, digi­ti­sa­tion, con­ser­va­tion and the two very crit­i­cal is­sues of hu­mid­ity and poor han­dling of ob­jects,” shares Mehta.

Learn, train

This first work­shop turned out to be an eye-opener for both sides. “Our per­cep­tion about the po­lice force changed. This mu­seum is bound to trans­form the pub­lic’s no­tion about them,” re­lays Kadam, a sen­ti­ment echoed by Mehta, and Pad­sal­gikar, who gave the work­shop a thumbs-up, go­ing by the feed­back that res­onated across the cor­ri­dors of the po­lice head­quar­ters.

But the big­gest cheers, emerged from the par­tic­i­pants: “It [the train­ing] was a mind-blow­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It was won­der­ful to see all the ex­hibits pre­served so well here [at BDL],” shared Pradip Lo­nand­kar, re­tired As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice and now sec­re­tary of the Mum­bai Po­lice Mu­seum Trust in a video posted about their ex­pe­ri­ences on the mu­seum’s web­site. In another video, Ra­jeev Sa­mant, Se­nior Po­lice In­spec­tor, felt that the work­shop would hold them in good stead in the fu­ture, when work com­mences around the mu­seum and the archives. “Ve­gle vishay aahe parantu tyat evda easy karun saglya goshti shikavlelya [It was a dif­fer­ent sub­ject but they taught all of it to us in an easy for­mat],” he signed off.

Par­tic­i­pants from Mum­bai Po­lice are all ears as the mu­seum staff ex­plain a dis­play

Mem­bers of the team were guided on man­age­ment of peo­ple in­side a mu­seum

Tas­neem Mehta

D Pad­sal­gikar

Hi­man­shu Kadam

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