Chitpur Local Pop-up Museum

Format Neighborhood Platform

City Kolkata, India

Courtyard of De house (240 years old house) – A temporary Pop-up Museum created to share local histories through everyday objects. For e.g.: A really old camera used by a stamp maker in his hay days for his business. It still works and he takes pride in it, but no body in his locality is aware of it. Collects such objects that tell a story, and through those objects start dialogues between people of the community to build new relationships.

Chitpur, as a locality is very rich in culture, art and heritage. The locals are not only aware, but extremely proud of their neighbourhood too. But there is a lack in communication amongst the locals, and there is no initiative from their side to reactivate the public spaces or display their pride in anyway. This project started with the enquiry of what the people of the locality feel about their neighbourhood? What is it's identity with respect to the people that inhabit it? How can that be displayed in a way that it sparks conversations and thoughts amongst them? How can that be translated into reactivation of public spaces there? Objects seemed to be a very powerful medium to share stories. It was easy to start conversations around a object and what personal story does it carry. From that, stemmed the idea of a museum, but there were some important questions to ask and address. Why do we only keep old objects in a museum? What is a museum? Can we keep objects that tell you a story about someone/some place? Can we start conversation/dialogues amongst people with the help of these stories?

Location Identify your space/location

Mapping is a very powerful tool for identifying your location. Start with mapping out the context, communities and the spaces of a particular neighbourhood.

Communication Locate Community Collaborator

Its essential to identify people int he community who you will be closely working with. They are sort of like that project heads in the community and help in spreading the word/networking and reaching out. Workshops with them is important too, to be on the same page.

Mobilization Interviews and Workshops

Along with the community collaborator, interview people whose stories you want to collect. Collect objects and invite the donors to participate in a discussion with other members who are donating, describing the object and the story.

Mobilization Test Event

Test out the tool in a smaller scale with limited number of people. This not only helps in recognising gaps but also communicated the idea very well to the participants. Some of them are clueless even after donating, and some refrain from donating because they don't see value in objects they posses or don't understand the idea.

Funding Ideas to create in limited resources

If the project is not supported by a grant/agency/department, its crucial to come up with ideas to keep the expenditure minimum. Try and collaborate with companies interested in extending material to these kinds of project or collaborate with the local craftsmen for production.

Production Structure of the Museum

Be very careful that the structure feels like a part of the architecture and not something that dose not belong there. Since its a museum of everyday objects, built by the community, it should definitely posses the aesthetic of the neighbourhood. Collaborating with local craftsmen works the best, they have a fair idea of what the locals identify with. The structure needs to be carefully built keeping in mind the objects too. Should be responsive.

Misc Feedback Loop

One of the most important part of the project, is creating a feedback loop. Its crucial for ownership and improving the project. Ownership is built by asking the community members for their opinions and acting upon it.

Misc Sustainability/Follow-up

How does the project live on? Thats an important question to ask, is it just these temporary pop-ups? Or can we even come up with a local history curriculum for schools, so that such activities populate the neighbourhood every now and then?