India | 2021
Imphal Peace Museum is dedicated to the indomitable human spirit which was so abundantly evident in the manner Manipur embraced as inevitable what can only be described as an epochal catastrophe, and in the end, emerged triumphantly. These spectacular hills and valleys are no stranger to violence but they had never before seen violence of such industrial-scale as WWII brought to their doorsteps. Though fought on their soil, the Manipuris always knew it was not their war, therefore had no enemies. In the true humanistic tradition, by & large, the Manipuris, amidst their own misery, harboured no bitterness against any of the warring sides and extended humanitarian help to any needy soldier. This Museum is a Chronicle of the Heroism of the ordinary Manipuris. Terrifying as it was, WWII also abruptly and rudely awoke Manipur to the modern world. It opened up new doors and windows for Manipur to the brave new world outside in a dramatic way. When the people awoke from the nightmare of the war, amidst the debris of their ravaged homeland, they also discovered airports, roads, new ideas, new enterprises and more, extending their horizon of possibilities beyond what they ever imagined. This is a 6500 sqft. gallery where WWII archaeological finds are allotted appropriate contextual spaces in the narrative of a cataclysmic historical trajectory Manipur found itself in because of a peculiar turn of the geopolitics of the period. These artefacts from the past are reconnected to the activities which once gave them meaning, by materially and symbolically remaking the world they came from. The display space of the museum is divided broadly into two equal sections. The first shows the intensity of the war. The second, which is further divided into two sub-sections, “post-war” and “life & culture”, together show the resilience of these hills and valleys, and the people who made these their homes, in recovering from the destruction all around to usher back life in all its exuberance and sophistication.
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