A glorious past

Informative facets

A glorious past

The newly inaugurated Heritage Museum at The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) is a fascinating world in itself. It not only traces the evolution of NIMHANS from the 1840s but also attempts to educate and inform the public about brain and mind sciences.

The museum traces the history of NIMHANS with photographs, case sheets and testimonials patients. The idea was first conceived and given a proper shape and form by Dr Pratima Murthy, Dr Sanjeev Jain and Dr Vivek Benegal — all professors of psychiatry at NIMHANS.

About how the concept came about, Dr Pratima Murthy, professor of psychiatry, who has been working with NIMHANS for over 30 years, in various capacities, explains, “When we started working on idea of the museum, we had a lot of data with us. We had to first decide what to take and what not to. We also found a lot of old equipment which are not seen or used anymore today.” Dr Pratima says they also stumbled upon a lot of unclaimed belongings of patients, such as jewellery, ‘mangalsutras’, cash, Ganesha beedis, spectacles and an LIC policy.

“We have carefully preserved them all. There is also an electromagnetic shock apparatus, ECT machines that were used in early psychological tests and several books on behaviour perception,” she adds. The first floor of the museum has been converted into an exploratory science gallery which has been designed and structured to educate the public, particularly children, about the working of the brain and the human mind, informs Dr Pratima.

    She says that the museum will also have a curator who will not only be available to explain the specifics about the museum but one who will also spot mobile museums across the country and integrate them with the museum at NIMHANS.

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), Bengaluru, chipped in and restored the building, which was earlier called the Children’s Pavilion.

   Talking about the process of restoration and Intach’s involvement in the Museum, Pankaj Modi of Intach says, “What was once a lunatic asylum has now been transformed into a space where the public can understand, educate and enlighten themselves about the evolution and growth of NIMHANS. The museum has some display panels, LED and slow moving screens highlighting information. People will be able to get an in-depth view of different aspects of human behaviour, psychological disorders and different modes of treatment.”

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