A museum assistant with Ancient House Museum of Thetford in England, Karen Emma White, will visit Punjab and Chandigarh as part of the ‘Connections through Culture Programme’, after receiving a funding of £2,000 (around Rs 2 lakh) from the British Council.
During her two-week visit, starting February 22, the 43-year-old would meet scholars and curators to learn about the Sikh culture and would visit places like the Sikh Museum at the Golden Temple, the Ranjit Singh Museum in Amritsar, the Government Museum and Art Gallery and the Punjab Digital Library in Chandigarh.
“My aim is to exchange ideas on interpreting Anglo-Sikh/Indian culture within a museum setting to a wider audience using formal and informal learning sessions, and to discuss the opportunity to develop a virtual exhibition and textile workshops. Also, this is an opportunity to experience the Golden Temple firsthand, something I have long wanted to do,” said an elated White.
When asked about why she wants to visit Punjab, she said: “I’m looking forward to extending my knowledge and understanding of the Sikh faith by having firsthand experiences that can only happen by being in Punjab. I am looking forward to hearing the Indian perspective on the story of Maharaja Duleep Singh.”
Interestingly, the Thetford’s Ancient House Museum was founded by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, second son of the last Maharaja of Punjab, Maharaja Duleep Singh.
Expectation from the visit
“I will certainly have extended my knowledge of Indian culture. I am hoping that by the end of my trip I will have established some good working relationships enabling the museum to continue to work with museums in Punjab,” she said.
“The rise of technology makes this much easier, we can share digital images, communicate via email and make the most of websites from each establishment. I am hoping that by the time I leave many more people will know about Ancient House and what we have in Norfolk. I hope that on my return to England I will have set up some new networks to develop our understanding of Sikh/Indian culture and how we can improve engaging and interpreting the story of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, his family and his European connections,” she added.
Her two-week visit will begin with the Amritsar Heritage Walk followed by a visit to the Golden Temple and the Ranjit Singh Museum and statue. She will also visit Jallianwala Bagh, Gobindgarh Fort, the Khalsa College and the Sikh Research Museum. She would then come to Chandigarh, where she will visit the Government Museum and Art Gallery and the Punjab Digital Library.
“I am looking forward to exploring Chandigarh as I studied Le Corbusier when I was at the university. I will, of course, make sure I go to the Wagah Border ceremony too,” she said.
During this period, she will also meet Sikh historian Peter Bance. She will spend some time with the students of the International Fateh Academy and will speak at the Khalsa College in Amritsar.