City Hangout – Touchy-Feely Gallery, National Museum
Tangible way of experiencing the past.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It may be hard to resist grasping the Shiva sculpture estimated to be from the fifth century. Or perhaps playing with the deity’s large earrings.
In fact, patrons are encouraged to get a feel of all the exhibits at the Anubhav Gallery in the National Museum.
A poster on the wall says: “Please touch all exhibits…”. The gallery was meant to encourage the visually challenged when it was all set up a few years ago.
The gallery has 22 replicas — its originals are also housed in another section of the museum — that offer a tantalising experience of tactile contact with the ancient world.
Running one’s hand over an enlarged coin transports us immediately to 18th century Oudh.
We can feel the garments of the coin’s two figures holding a crown: A touchy-feely encounter that makes a vanished world far more believable. And so much more thrilling, sending a shiver down the spine of smitten visitors.
There’s the famed dancing girl of Mohenjadaro; and a young museum visitor is now gazing at the tiny but legendary figure. In awe, as if encountering a fairy tale where the figure comes alive upon touch, he wraps his small fingers around the statue. The boy removes his hands a few moments later, perhaps leaving the statue to await its next human contact.