‘Forms and functions change. What remains is the indelible impact that each technological evolution brings into our methods of information exchange,’ is the message from Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Kolkata, to their visitors as they welcomed all to their newly inaugurated gallery on the communication technology of yesteryears - Vintage Voyage. The Telegraph Online Edugraph, as the digital media partner of the launch event, sat down with the team that curated the exhibition to find out about the journey leading to the Voyage.
“Penchant for communication is innate in our minds as human beings. What started with smoke signals, later evolved into hieroglyphics and has now landed in our phones as emojis,” said Mr Subhabrata Chaudhuri, the Director of BITM. “With that in mind, we decided to have a thematic presentation on vintage artefacts that fostered connectivity for the last 200 years. The exhibition has been sectioned into 4 clear themes - Transmit, Broadcast, Tethering and Swadeshi Connect, the last one celebrating the 75 years of Indian independence.”
Subhabrata Chaudhuri, Director, BITM Source: Edugraph
The curation of this permanent exhibition was a challenge for the art team of BITM, as Debangshu Chatterjee, the Exhibition Officer, told Edugraph. “This gallery has been curated to stand out from the rest of the sections of BITM. Traditionally, BITM displays are present in an 8-foot high enclosure with pelmets on top, and horizontal accompanying texts. None of those protocols was followed for this gallery. We worked with spotlights and open displays, drawing inspiration from renowned museums across the globe. The director put his faith in us to go our own way and present something new to this hallowed institution, and thankfully we have succeeded in our efforts.”
The installations were completed in a month and a half, during which the exhibition team worked long shifts with active support from the entire BITM staff. As a museum of scientific artefacts, BITM brings together a range of interested individuals in their efforts, work turns into a labour of passion rather than profession. Prabir Kumar Sarker, ex-technician at BITM who retired one and a half years ago, best embodies that essence. Mr Sarker and his team restored many artefacts over the last three months which are now showcased fully functioning in the gallery. “I love this work, so when the director called me up and offered me this opportunity, I simply could not say no,” gushed Mr Sarker. “The gramophones and the magneto generator were the most challenging to restore, but I enjoyed every moment of it.”
Prof Abhijit Chakrabarti being given the inaugural tour by Ms Aditi Ghose Source: Edugraph
The effort of every member of BITM bore fruit on 18 May, as Prof Abhijeet Chakrabarti, a Member of the Governing Body of the National Council of Science Museums and Chairman of the Executive Committee of BITM Kolkata, inaugurated the gallery and was taken on the maiden tour by Ms Aditi Ghose, Education Officer of BITM Kolkata. The gallery is now open for public display and hopes to capture the fascination of the young and the old alike.