The Partition Museum comprehensively charts the Partition with a narrative arc that moves from the time before partition, proceeds to the independence movement, the early demands for separate countries, and ultimately the Partition and its consequences.
Established as a People’s Museum, the Partition Museum endeavors to depict the Partition as it was experienced by the People. One key aspect of the collections comprises the artefacts generously donated by Partition Survivors and their families. As people were displaced, they carried with them whatever little they could, and these objects are now not only important milestones of the events, but symbols of losses suffered and trials endured. The uncertainty and confusion caused by the sudden division of the country often gave people no time to be able to gather their belongings before walking out of their homes forever. The artefacts received by the Partition Museum include things that were of practical use brought across by people along with those that held sentimental value for them. From utensils, trunks and clothes, to a wedding sari, a jewellery box and a tin box, the Museum houses artefacts of the Partition belonging to people from diverse and different backgrounds.
When artists recalled the horrors of Partition, they often expressed their emotions by painting, but as Krishen Khanna states, “We were able to do it only much later. At that time saving our lives and escaping was most important.” Satish Gujral recalls going back and forth across the border escorting refugees to the other side. Gujral only later understood and came to accept that his art was deeply influenced by the traumas of Partition. S.L. Parasher, a man whose art is known for its strong lines and the clarity with which he expressed motion, worked and lived in many refugee camps before he went on to rebuild his life. These artists painted the trauma of the time. While their works of art are extremely distinct, the themes they paint are similar. The Partition Museum, in its attempt to provide a holistic view on how the division of 1947 affected individuals, houses limited edition reprints of paintings from these three artists as well as a provocative and deeply moving piece by Arpana Caur titled “1947”.
A multi-media experience, the Museum also documents—through audio-visual stations set across the 14 galleries—those whose voices have been silenced in the pages of history. There are more than 100 interviews currently playing in the Museum. We also have a constantly expanding archive that will be made available to researchers, scholars and those interested in the history of the Partition.
The Partition Museum aims to become a repository of information and stories of the Partition. This is a never-ending effort to collect more oral histories, documents, and footage and to tap all sources that may help us achieve our aims.