A new museum in Victoria is the embodiment of Indian heritage in Australia
On the eve of India’s 68th Independence Day, Museum India, the first of its kind outside India,was inaugurated in Victoria. The venture marks a new beginning and an allegiance to preserve the rich historical legacy of our ancient land, and share it with those in our adopted land.
Situated in the heart of Melbourne’s Little India Precinct in Dandenong, Museum India displays artworks, photographs, paintings, sculptures, engravings, lithographs, chromolithographs, coins and stamps dating as far back as 400 BC. Currently the museum houses only five per cent of the collection due to lack of space, but expansion works are in progress.
Accompanied by the melodious strains of the dhol, nadaswaram and mridangam playing in the background, Museum India was jointly inaugurated by Matthew Guy, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Citizenship and Planning; Manika Jain, Consul General of India Melbourne; Mayor Jim Memeti from the City of Greater Dandenong and John Pandazopoulos MP (Member for Dandenong).
President of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria (FIAV), Mr Vasan Srinivasan, told the assembled guests that the concept of ‘Museum India’ first entered his mind a few years ago. He envisioned a standing testimony to the legacy and heritage of the vast Indian community in Australia. And after months of toil along with the conjoined and collaborative efforts of many, his vision has finally become a reality.
Mr Srinivasan says it was through the support, passion, dedication and generosity of Dr Dinesh Parekh and his family that we have been given an opportunity to comprehend, appreciate and preserve the historical legacy of Mother India here in Victoria, Australia.
Dr Dinesh Parekh is a collector par extraordinaire! A retired Melbourne-based psychologist with an extremely interesting and motivating career profile, an avid photographer and collector, his passion for photography started in his early teens and continued well after earning his medical degrees. Dr Parekh has been collecting now for more than 50 years and his collection has been displayed at several international exhibitions.
This massive collection, held currently under Dr Parekh’s family trust, has been generously loaned to Museum India to be preserved for the future generations. A strong pillar of the Indian community in Victoria, Dr Parekh said, “Museum India is a unique and distinctive venture, one of its kind in the world, built with dedication, support and generosity of many”.
Minister for Multicultural Affairs Matthew Guy, a long standing patron of FIAV, said that the inauguration of this Museum is a momentous occasion, and applauded the efforts of all those who worked so hard to make it a reality. Mayor Memeti said that the Museum was a befitting addition to the Little India precinct for promoting the multicultural camaraderie of the City of Greater Dandenong.
In her address, Ms Manika Jain applauded the efforts of Dr Parekh, whose private collection holds more than 11,000 artefacts pertaining to Indian history.
Chitra Sudarshan, an academic and Indian Link writer with a great knowledge of Indian arts, said after the launch, “Those who have been fortunate enough to have viewed bits of the Parekhs’ collection earlier at the Hindu Cultural Centre in the Shiva Vishnu temple in Carrum Downs, which houses a permanent exhibition of exquisite photographs, paintings and lithographs pertaining to Hindu mythology, will be delighted at this display at FIAV’s premises. The display has been wonderfully put together by the Parekhs themselves and is a testament to their great taste, aesthetic sense and connoisseurship”.
The event also witnessed the presence of many dignitaries and VIPs including Luke Donnellan (State Member for Narre Warren North and Shadow Minister for Roads, Road Safety and the TAC); Simon Wilson, General Manager, Precinct Urban Renewal at Places Victoria; Professor Amitabh Mattoo, CEO and Director, Australia India Institute; Chin Tan, Chairperson of Victorian Multicultural Commission and Chidambaram Srinivasan, Member of the Victorian Multicultural Commission. The Indian AFL team was also present at the event and so was Rahul Roy, yesteryear Bollywood actor of Aashiqui fame.
Museum India is a collaborative effort from Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, CIAA, FIAV, the Indian High Commission, Australia India Institute, State and local Governments, City of Greater Dandenong and the Imperial College of Australia.
This museum will be a treasure house of knowledge for students, researchers, tourists and anyone interested in the story of Indian civilisation and heritage. Currently only a small part of the collection is displayed due to lack of space and facilities, but efforts will continue, over the years, to identify and build a larger museum which can eventually display the collection in its entirety.
As Dr Parekh rightly said, “No museum can be built in a day!” It is a journey, over the ages, that will stand witness to the history, tradition and culture of a majestic and ancient civilisation called ‘India’.
61-63 Foster Street and 2 Robinson Street, Dandenong
Timings: Tuesday – Saturday; 11.00am – 4.00pm
Sunday – by appointment only
For further details, contact 1800 FIAV 00 (1800 3428 00)