On Thursday, August 17, the world’s first partition museum officially opened to the public, seventy years after the division of Pakistan and India at the close of the British Empire. Located in the Indian border city of Amritsar, the 17,000-square-foot colonial-style Town Hall acquired its collection, comprising personal items from the approximately fourteen million people that were displaced, from the families of those affected by the largest mass migration in history, Tim Cornwell of the Art Newspaper reports.
The London School of Economics and the University of Cambridge have assisted the museum with curatorial work and offered access to key colonial-era documents in the collections of the British Library and the National Archives. The museum staff members finalized exhibitions for the official inauguration just two days after India’s Independence Day.
The museum’s building, provided by the Punjab government, is now declared part of Heritage Street, a remodeled stretch connected to the Golden Temple complex, Sikhism’s holiest site. Within it are fourteen galleries, which present stories from the period, including how the spread of cholera, hunger, and monsoon rains caused the deaths of nearly two million people. Among the artworks currently on view are sketches and sculptures by Sardari Lal Parasher, a former refugee camp commander and vice principal of Lahore’s Mayo School of Arts (now Pakistan’s National College of Arts).