The Conflictorium is a museum very different from what we are used to in India: it addresses personal and large scale conflicts, issues we pretend that don’t exist in India in this sector. I was struck by the positive, stark reality of the relevance of the museum, conveyed in the most effective and emotional manner. Do visit it, will make your Ahmedabad trip worthwhile. Thank you Conflictorium, my humble gratitude for the Commonwealth Association of Museums Bulletin.
NEWS FROM COMMONWEALTH MUSEUMS
Conflictorium: Museum of Conflict
By Poulomi Das
Calling itself “a participatory museum” the Conflictorium at Gool Lodge, Ahmedabad in Gujarat, http://www.conflictorium.org/ treasures multiple stories.
It is located in communally sensitive Mirzapur in the old house of Bachuben Nagarwala, a female hairstylist of the minority Parsi community, whose clients came from the world over to not only addresstheir external appearance but resolve their inner distress.
Mirzapur locals directed me to the house extending the personal warmth and association the museum aims to achieve. Weaving my way through the narrow by lanes of India’s first UNESCO certified World Heritage City, Ahmedabad envelops more than 600-year-old history. Expecting a sombre atmosphere with painful tales, I was surprised by the bright colourful posters and walls.
The staff was happy to talk about the museum and its wide range of interactive displays discussing types and manners of conflict ranging from communal riots to Bhopal gas tragedy to strikes. The ground floor also has a room bringing the real issues that the Indian Constitution tried to remedy, which makes it so much easier to understand why, what and how our political leaders attempted to make India a ‘sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic.’
The beautifully restored 20th century building with its porcelain tiles, wooden staircase and coloured glass windows led me to the first floor to encounter an issue we are happy to avoid – personal conflict. Instead of holding on to past trauma, the Memory Lab and Sorry Tree allows us to let go of the bitterness and move towards the positives in the present and future.
A repository of memories, experiences, associations and problems that afflict every human being, the Conflictorium is a space that made me feel I was back to the times when Bachuben would have soothed out problems, refreshed confidences and taught one to love oneself and the world better.
All photographs in this post have been taken by the author.