On the 31st of January 2018, SSLA played host to Mr. Neil MacGregor. He is a renowned British art historian and museum director specialising in reading artefacts. He has been the director of the National Gallery, London and the British Museum and is currently the founding director of Humboldt Forum in Berlin.
Along with Mr. MacGregor, SSLA also welcomed Miss Marukh Tarapor, an Indian museum professional and an art consultant. She is widely known for her scholarship in art, especially Islamic art and was awarded with the Padma Shri in 2013 for her brilliant work in the same field.
Mr. MacGregor spoke to the students about how history is constructed on the basis of antiquities, which are represented by these artefacts and how these artefacts build a narrative for our history. Neil breathes life into these artefacts by closely studying their excavation and evolution through time. He refers to the British Museum as a place of extraordinary history and he advises all the citizens to see and connect with their history in this abode of historical records. According to Mr. MacGregor, a lot of people carry the false notion that history emerges from manuscripts and scriptures. But, most of the history known to mankind today comes from such artefacts found time and again. Hence he established the significance of the importance of these objects.
Mr. MacGregor elaborated upon the importance of the ‘Coin’ - which he also calls the ‘extraordinary immediate bits’ of history. He is further discused its relation with the ideologies of power and religion.
Miss Marukh Tarapor then took up the stage to talk about the Indian Art and how it is not sponsored well by the Indian universities. She encouraged the students to help retain history and inspired them through the story of the Mumbai Museum that has reclaimed its glory. She titled museums as extremely vibrant spaces where time and space co-exist beautifully. “Objects are multi-faceted like people”, she said as she went back to Mr. MacGregor’s point of not only preserving these artefacts but also understanding them.
She ended her speech with the fact that Museums play an important role in building up the narrative for our history with imparting knowledge through artefacts which retain the energy of the past.