International Museum Day has been celebrated all over the world on the May 18, since 1977. Each year, a theme is decided on by the Advisory Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM).
The event provides the opportunity for museum professionals to meet the public and alert them to the challenges that museums face if they are to be – as in the ICOM definition of museums - “an institution in the service of society and of its development”.
Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, co-operation and peace among peoples.
Complying with the theme this year, Museums for Social Harmony, Goa Chitra, Goa’s first and only ethnographical museum, situated in Benaulim, opens its door to all senior citizens of the state. The curator and founder of the museum, Mr Victor Hugo Gomes reiterates his passion for preserving the past to enrich the future.
“What a feeling of pride and satisfaction it shall be for the senior citizens of our state to walk the corridors of Goa Chitra, to identify with their past and know that it is being preserved for posterity. In a place where age, caste, religion or gender is not discriminated, Goa Chitra exemplifies social harmony”.
Goa Chitra is an ethnographic museum that seeks not only to restore and preserve the traditional agrarian lifestyle of our ancestors but also to promote awareness and appreciation of the eco-friendly techniques practiced by our forefathers out of a deep sensitivity and concern for the environment.
The genesis of the Goa Chitra museum began many years ago when Victor started collecting old, discarded implements and tools from attics and storerooms because he was saddened to see reminders of a way of life disappear. But as the collection grew, he was awed by the richness of the culture and heritage that these objects represented, and the knowledge and skills of our forefathers. His quest to collect objects and artefacts led him to travel the length and breadth of Goa, to the remotest of villages, speaking to the village elders, documenting the ethnicity and rituals associated with every item.
To preview the collection Goa Chitra has had over 25,000 visitors since December 2008 and has gained local as well as national media attention. Goa Chitra has been graced by many distinguished guests that include the Governor of Goa, Dr Sidhu who launched our membership drive, the Union Minister of Tourism, Ms Kumari Selja and the Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk.
The project is recognised as an international product and has been the recipient of two International awards. The Fundacao Orient scholarship 2009 (Portugal) and the V X Verodiano Award 2009 (USA) for persons who preserve the well being of mankind through individual advancement in the field of art, music, literature, science, medicine or humanities.
As a tribute, visitors from the home of the aged across Goa are invited for a free and special tour of the museum and all senior citizens shall be able to view the museum with no entry charges on the May 18. Special tours will be conducted personally by the curator and collector Victor Hugo Gomes at 10.00 a.m., 12.00 noon and 4.00 p.m. The museum is open to public on all days except Mondays between 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.