Who killed the museum culture in Pakistan?

Note: the blog is an opinion piece by the author and  ‘The Environmental’ agrees with it fully.

As a 25-year-old, I always have a special appreciation for Science and Natural History Museums. They bring out the inner child in me. I get asked a lot on “why do you go there? they are just for kids”. Yes, these museums are catered to a younger demographic. But, I have always had a sense of longing to learn and absorb my surrounding. The reason why is that I have never come across exceptional museums in Karachi when growing up.

What is the future for museums?

The idea to think that museums are only for young families and the elderly is so far from the truth. With the use of technology, museums are now becoming more innovative. The culture of visiting new places and museums has not been very prominent in Pakistan. Pakistanis are starved for entertainment and would mostly resort to dining out as an idea of fun.  

Museums are slowly decaying and fading into the backdrop of the urban metropolitan unless there aren’t any new approaches to attract visitors even after Covid-19. Having better equipt museums are essential to preserving knowledge. 

‘Development without sustainability is simply ‘construction’. Just constructing a building is not progress.’ Ahmad Shabbar

The “Educational Fieldtrips” in Karachi from the late 90’s to the early ’00s 

In Pakistan, Zoos are no longer an acceptable place to take children because of the poor living conditions the animals are subjected to. The state of Pakistani Zoos are so abysmal that it has reached the attention from the international media where Singer, Cher has advocated for animal rights and the release of the loneliest elephant Kaavan. Recently Ranoo, the bear in Karachi zoo is making headlines as well. 

Animal right’s activists, including singer Cher, have been campaigning for the 33-year-old Asian elephant to receive better treatment since 2015

Throughout my childhood, I felt that museums were lacking a hands-on experience this would possibly be why I do not remember any exhibits where I just looked at old black and white photographs. What I do remember a small section in Mohatta palace where they had a baby preserved in a large beaker. I remember being terrified after seeing it in the 2nd grade.

The key to bringing out your inner child

Science and Natural history museums should stimulate curiosity, creativity and learning through exciting, interactive exhibits and programs for ALL. I say all here because I believe that when you expand the demographics you are open to exciting opportunities and eventful visits. The hands-on exhibits are the keystone of the museum.

I think Science museums are an incredibly valuable resource for public education and engagement in scientific research. Let’s be honest, there aren’t many instances of young adults and members of the general public walking into science labs on university campuses to experience science in action.

The ‘One Planet’ exhibition at Museon.

The “One Planet” exhibit at Museon (The Hague, The Netherlands).

When visiting Science and Natural history museums in a different city or country I always try to pick up ideas. Imagining that if I had to curate an environmental exhibition which covers topics which concern us all. The One Planet exhibit did exactly that for me. It was fun, inclusive and satisfied my craving for hands-on practical learning.

The Museon uses these 17 sustainable development goals as a starting point in One Planet. It delves on the themes of health, energy, sustainability and discrimination. Also, topics that concern us all: a fair distribution of food, water and energy and how we can live together on this planet.

Just like the goals the exhibition has 17 parts and thought-provoking questions. In the end, you input your answers and determine whether you are a nature conservest, philanthropist, optimist or a defender. It is a fun, fascinating and educational exhibition. We need to figure out ‘How do we keep the earth liveable and healthy together?’

Part two of this article will look into what innovative approaches are being taken for museums in Pakistan now. 


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