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  • Eternally yours: a rare women’s museum in Bengaluru

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    We have a rare women’s museum in the city. Read on to find out the interesting story behind its birth and its even more intriguing collection

    The city nurtures in its womb, little known spaces and unknown treasures an inhabitant can only discover if suitably armed with time and curiosity. Shashwati Women’s Museum is one such gem which needs to be discovered. Its location — nestled inside NMKRV Degree College for women in Jayanagar — makes it even more rare. Shashwati is a word derived from the Sanskrit word Shashwat which means eternal and Chi.Na. Mangala, educationist, journalist, author, visionary wanted to create something for posterity. The founder-principal of NMKRV Degree College for Women in 1973, with her colleagues undertook a padayatra in Bengaluru and Mysuru collecting women-related artefacts. That is how Shashwati Women’s Museum was born.

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    Dioramas, grinding stones, wooden troughs, vessels, radios, typewriters, old gramophones, wooden cradles, objects handcrafted from plastic, paddy, fabric, crochet, jute, photographs, paintings, sculptures in copper, brass and stone make up this museum. “All the items that you see were made and used by women and that is what makes it so rare,” says Vani M.N, one of the oldest serving teachers in the college.

    The museum can introduce one to Nanjanagudu Thirumalamba, Karnataka’s first woman writer, journalist and publisher. As soon as visitors enter, they can find a display section dedicated to the iconic personality with her handwritten articles, letters and a few of her personal belongings. “Mangala once wrote an article for a magazine claiming that Thirumalamba was dead. But she later found out that Thirumalamba was alive. Mangala took it upon herself to find her. She eventually found her living in a small house in a village in Chennai. Chi.Na.Mangala felt she had committed a sin and to atone for it, she needed to build something for eternity. She went door to door collecting these items,” reveals the senior teacher.

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    Vani picks a wooden sieve, nut crackers,and dioramas depicting saint-poet Basavanna’s life as well as a 100 year-old paddy tray and a 120 year-old saree with gold threads worn by Mangala’s mother on her wedding, as highlights of the museum.

    The nut crackers are truly a delight, especially the ones styled as a Yaksha-Yakshi, or a fish. The dioramas lined at the fag-end of the museum, depicting important episodes from Basavanna’s life, are also significant. With each object clearly stating the name of the donor and creator, the collection becomes credible.

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    If the display and curation were better, the museum could have transformed into an extraordinary space. But the fact is that it is dealing with practical challenges of space.

    “The collection hasn’t stopped growing so we have to figure out how to accomodate it. There is a museum committee which has been formed and we have to take certain important decisions regarding these issues, soon it will be a better place. When it comes to a curator, we need someone who will be there with us for a long time. We need a committed person; what we do now is train and pass on the information to a present staff member,” explains Vani, who heads the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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    The museum is not like other museums where visitors can just walk in. One needs permission from the college to visit the space. “It is inside the college and that’s why one needs to be a little cautious but whoever wants to come can call us and see it.

    The museum is particularly relevant to the students of the Department of Women’s studies and outsiders undertaking research on gender or anthropology,” adds Vani. The museum is currently closed to visitors due to some construction work.

    Shashwati Women’s Museum,NMKRV Degree College of Women,3rd block, Jaya Nagar East, Near Uphara Darshini, Banashankari

    Call: 080 2663 7042

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Entertainment> Arts / by Shailaja Tripathi / July 26th, 2017

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