Nestled within the woods of Shakarparian, the Heritage Museum presents the living cultural traditions and lifestyles of the people of Pakistan, from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea.
This museum was set up on Garden Avenue by Lok Virsa. It was originally created as the Folk Art Museum in 1981, and then renovated and expanded into an ethnological museum in 2004. It now covers an area of 60,000 square feet.
From the civilisation of Mohenjodaro and Harappa to present day Pakistan, the cultural history of what was once known as the crossroads of Asia is on display at the museum.
The changes in lifestyle in the region are clear in various exhibits that range from Alexander the Great, Ashoka the Great, the Aryans, Buddha, Mohammad bin Qasim, Babar, Nadir Shah and the East India Company.
The galleries also present the life of average citizens in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Kalash Valley. From war equipment to musical instruments, jewellery to utensils, fabric-making to embroidery, shoe making and rock carving, the galleries depict the various aspects of Pakistan’s cultural heritage.
Folk tales, like KP’s Adam Khan-Durkhane, Dhola-Maru from Sindh, Hani-Shah Murad from Balochistan and Heer Ranjha from Punjab are also represented, with replicas of the characters.
The main displays include the Hall of Antiquity and Continuity, the Hall of Textiles, the Hall of Sufis and Shrines, the Hall of Ballads and Romans, the Hall of Architecture, the Hall of Musical Heritage, and Future Vision. The culture of each province and region is exhibited.
Other galleries feature crafts such as truck art, pottery, weaving, block printing, stone carving, the Mughal art of carving marble, and Gandhara technique of sculpting rough stone into statues of Buddha.
In addition to preserving the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan, the museum also displays the cultures of various other countries that share affinities and influences with Pakistani culture.
“[The museum is] is very lively and attracts visitors to its displays. It is the first museum of ethnology established by the government to promote and project the country’s cultural heritage,” Dr Fouzia Saeed, the Lok Virsa executive director, told Dawn.
She said the current focus of the museum is the mobilisation of youth. “For this purpose, Friday is ‘Students Day’, and students are encouraged to visit the museum and ask questions about the various aspects of Pakistan’s traditional culture,” she said.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2016