New Delhi: To preserve our local heritage, the National Museum is initiating a programme to set up 1,000 'People's Museums' across India.

Anand Bose, National Museum administrator said, “We have inaugurated the first people's museum at Mannanam village in Kerala on March 30. It is located across three floors at the St Ephrem's Higher Secondary School”.

The Mannanam museum opened with an exhibition of 100 digital prints of art works and artifacts from the National Museum, he added.

Bose said, “The objective was to generate interest about museums and mobilise villagers to bring traditional family heirlooms of local heritage value for display at the museum. The objects were as diverse as a family bullock cart, walking sticks, artifacts, photographs and even old clothes, showcasing the cultural heritage of the area”.

A team from the National Museum has been sent to Mannanam to train the staff with the help of a National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) regular training module. The University Grants Committee (UGC) is also supporting the project.

Outlining the concept of people's museums, Bose said, “The modus operandi was to give local schools, colleges and Panchayat Raj institutions a nucleus of the national musuems - 100 replicas or masterpieces of the National Musuem. And then encourage the local people to bring their own exhibits.”

He said new theories of museuology - the study of museums and archives - have been recommending an inclusive approach to embrace local cultures and use museums as the communities' cultural focal points, to promote living cultures like folk and classical performances, contemporary arts and crafts.

'Children can see museums without coming to the capital. The people's museums will give local cultures a new lease of life,' he said.

'Museums unlike yesteryears are no longer the abode of the dead,' Bose said.

In the next stage, the museums across the country will be linked by internet to create an e-museum chain that will host exhibitions online supported by the National Museum, Bose said.

The museum is also working with national archives in Zurich (Switzerland), Egypt, Sri Lanka, the US, Italy, Canada and Qatar, he added.