Olaf and I visited the Indian Museum in Kolkata today. The collections and their presentations, taken together, are fascinating for what they say about the history of museums and museum culture and financing in this part of India. The exhibits look like they haven’t been touched in at least a century. Other than the one mummy in their tiny Egyptian room, nothing is protected by AC, and many of the paintings are clearly being destroyed with the passage of time in the hothouse that poses as their gallery.
On the other hand, it was like a time machine trip to how exhibits used to be put together in the late 19th century. There is a real air of retro scientific identification and classification in the display and labeling of items. The display cases look as if they are straight from the lab of Dr Jekyll or library of Sherlock Holmes. It is interesting to speculate on how classical science and museum presentation of it has separated in the years since.