First established in the historic Frere Hall in 1951, The National Museum of Pakistan was later privileged an independent building in the famous Burns Garden in Karachi city.
The museum was inaugurated by General Yahya Khan; a former president of Pakistan, on 21st February 1970. The museum comprises a comprehensive array of cultural heritage dating from the Stone Age.
The material consists of pre-historic artifacts down to artifacts from the meticulously planned Indus Valley civilization, which prospered for more than a millennium dating back to 2500 BC.
Traditionally, museums embarked as classified collections of affluent individuals or associations pertaining to art or extraordinary artifacts. Public admittance was only granted to a ‘special’ few at the will of the owners.
But as time progressed these artifacts were shared and displayed publicly with pride in order to educate and teach people more about history.
Currently in Pakistan, museums are not given as much importance as they had in early times and are often left unvisited in comparison to the yester years. Efforts for excavations have also been reduced since the archaeological department is not functioning effectively.
In some cases, no updates were provided as to where exactly the fossils, found during excavations made by foreign archaeologists, were placed. It was foreign archaeologists who had helped discover dinosaur fossils in several areas of Balochistan.
The total allocated federal; budget for the fiscal year 2011-2012 was Rs.2767 billion whereas the provincial budget for Sindh was Rs.457.5 billion. Ironically, the annual budget, allocated for Sindh's culture department, was a meager 0.8 per cent of the total provincial budget, which amounted to Rs.403 million.
This explains why the reconditioning of historic sights to withstand decay such as ‘Makli Tombs’ becomes more of a challenge. A part of reinforced walls in Mohenjodaro also collapsed recently due to salinity.
The National museum stood mostly unoccupied with just a small number of students visiting – this seemed enough to delight the eager and exceptionally knowledgeable curator.
Though the subject is often revised and remembered, the artifacts and atypical items from the past that lead to modern day civilization are left placed behind glass cabinet, with just a small number of people to visit them.
However recently, the Sindh government has sanctioned Rs.100 million for the preparation of a master plan for rehabilitation and cultural tourism of Mohenjodaro and the Punjab government and the search engine giant Google have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote archaeological sites of the province using Google Maps.
There have also been recent advancements in the archaeological findings of Pakistan in certain areas of Sindh, such as, the mound Nathar-j-Daro in Larkana and recent excavations in Bhanbore.
—Text and video by Shameen Khan/Dawn.com