Kolkata: Firhad Hakim, West Bengal’s minister of transportation and housing, dedicated an iconic museum on wheels in the historic trams of Kolkata on Sunday to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence through the people’s perspective. ‘India is a peaceful country. Bengal believes in harmony and unity within diversity. The ethos of Bengal is reflected in this museum. It also explores Bengal’s role in the freedom struggle. The Museum on Wheels beautifully depicts the efforts of our freedom fighters, as well as the impact of the division of Bengal and Punjab on the national psyche,’ said Firhad Hakim.
It will be on display at Esplanade in Kolkata from August 15 to December 31. The headquarters will move to another part of the city beginning January 1, 2022. Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust collaborated with West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) of the Government of West Bengal’s Transport Department in curating this exhibition. IAS Rajesh Sinha, transport minister, who attended the inauguration, said: ‘The museum on wheels depicts the Independence movement and the impact of partition on the states of Bengal and Punjab. Entrance to the museum will be free. It will be a permanent exhibition that moves around the city’.
Meanwhile, Mallika Ahluwalia, founder trustee of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, emphasized the ‘rich history and heritage’ of the trams in Kolkata, adding, ‘We wanted to make use of their mobility and easy access to reach out to Kolkatans. Through our exhibition, we hope to show the youth the history of our country’s fight against imperialism’.
Rajanvir Singh Kapur, managing director of the WBTC, said: ‘After opening the world’s first tram library and curating Tram World, we are now very excited to launch a unique mobile museum on Independence. In this initiative, we hope to revive the importance of trams and reshape their use so that they become more than just a mode of transportation but also serve as a cultural space in the modern era’.
Two trams have been converted into the museum on wheels. The first car portrays the intensifying resistance against the British Raj from the 1900s, leading to Independence and how the borders were drawn, dividing Bengal and Punjab. The second car explores the humane aspect of post-Partition mass migration and rehabilitation.
Amritsar is home to the world’s first Partition museum. It tells the story through the voices of millions of people who lived through it. Over 500,000 visitors have visited the Amritsar museum since it opened, making it a must-see tourist attraction in India. Moreover, it has received five national and international awards for excellence. It is located in the historic Town Hall building, only five minutes walking from the Golden Temple.