Partly education, partly of touristic value, museums are, like many other sectors, suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic, with independent operators who are reliant on charging visitors tickets hit particularly hard.
The Ever Living Museum in Mawshbuit is one such facility that is feeling the brunt.
Owned and operated by a retired Chief Engineer of the Public Health Engineering Department, Kyntiewbor War, the museum has a vast collection of stones, art, and other artifacts including miniature tree huts of the Garos, bamboo huts of the Khasi tribe, traditional dresses and ornaments of the different tribes of Meghalaya, household items, craft items, and old Indian and foreign currencies and coins, all collected by War.
A collection of shells, gemstones, and fossils are also housed in the museum and the museum garden boasts of a variety of wild orchids and fruit trees indigenous to Meghalaya.
Speaking to Highland Post, War, however, is reluctant to open the museum until a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus is available and everything returns to normal.
“Even if museums reopen I cannot take any chances because this is also my residence and I will wait until the vaccine is developed,” he said.
War lamented, however, that the pandemic has badly affected his employees, who have all returned to their hometowns and villages.
The museum opened its doors in 2015 and its footfall grew over the first few years up to a point where, during holidays, there were around 100 tourists who came to visit, besides school students.
The museum charged Rs 50 entry for adults and Rs 20 for children, while offering concessions for people from the locality.
“We have also formed a society to run the museum but then this pandemic happened and we are hopeful that when we reopen assistance from the government will also come forth so that we can expand and improve the museum,” he added.
War also has an opinion on the divisive shopping mall idea proposed by the government to be built in Barik Point.
“We have seen so many activities and shows happening outside the premises of the State Central Library and inside the Soso Tham Auditorium and I think that an amphitheatre at Barik will ease the burden of the State Central Library and can also accommodate more people and crowds,” he opined.
With online shopping becoming ever more popular he ridiculed the idea of a shopping mall in the area with educational institutions and health centres like Shillong Civil Hospital adjacent to it.