S28-8

COVID-19 and Digitization in Indian Museums

Bihar Museum, India

Digitalization is turning into the most effective methods of disseminating information in the museum world as we continue to face a ‘mobility crisis’ due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Indian museums are adapting to the ‘change in the mode of operation’, but it is not an easy venture, as attention to the creation of digital infrastructure prior to the pandemic was extremely limited. Approaches to digitalization of museum collections, and a lack of incentive across most of the sector, impacted both private and public museums, resulting in serious economic problems. However, a handful of museums made their collections partially available online, and continued to run their public outreach programmes and training courses virtually. The impact of ‘changes in the mode of operation’ in museums in India is yet to be fully evaluated in terms of heritage dissemination, but it has almost certainly resulted in better strategies for the public inclusiveness. This paper explores the enhancement of digital public activities in museums in India with a special focus on Bihar Museum, Patna, India. Bihar museum encountered many challenges during COVID-19 pandemic. People in Bihar, especially in rural areas have very limited access to modern technology, and it was great challenge for curators to connect visitors remotely to the museum collections during the lockdown period, even though the Bihar Museum tried its best provide different online activities by following the government protocols. Now in 2022, Bihar Museum has opened its doors to the public once again, and the management and staff are adapting collections and activities within the New Normal.