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Our interactive museums are meant to inspire: Museum designer Shekhar Badve

The yet-to-be launched Swaraj Museum in Pune
The yet-to-be launched Swaraj Museum in Pune

Why we design is more important that what we design,” says museum designer Shekhar Badve, also founder of the design firm, LokusDesign. “I think experiential museum spaces are meant to inspire people to do something good. It’s to garner someone’s attention and time, and use that to ignite something in them.” The 42-year-old and his team are using this same philosophy to revolutionise museum design by creating experiences that are uniquely interactive and immersive. The Punekar, who studied at Ahmedabad’s National Institute of Design, believes, “It’s all about telling stories at the end of the day.”

As we talk about the first museum he designed in 2013, the approach and vision starts to make sense. The Gandhi Teerth museum in Jalgaon tells the story of the Mahatma before he became one. “The aim was to not put Gandhi on a pedestal,” he explains. “It was telling the story of an ordinary man who became an extraordinary one, by the force of his circumstances and how he reacted to them.” For example, one entire section deals with the failures Gandhi suffered so as to make him more relatable.

Technologically, Badve has a more Harry Potter bent of mind. There are stationary sets of the Mahatma in South Africa, that come to life thanks to 3D projection mapping (where a two- or three-dimensional object is spatially mapped on the virtual program which mimics the real environment it is to be projected on). “So the audience would feel like you are actually walking through the streets of SA,” he says.

The Gandhi Teerth Museum in Jalgaon
The Gandhi Teerth Museum in Jalgaon

Right now, the designer is busy working on Swaraj, which will celebrate Pune’s history and will launch mid-August. “We want people to know more about Pune. We are also working on a project around Sinhagad fort in the fort premises.”

What drives him every day is inspiration that comes in form of fascination of museums around the world or the books he is reading. “You have to read Sanjeev Sanya’s books on India and its history and geography. They are very well researched.” He also remembers the time he travelled to Berlin and visited the Jewish Museum. “It’s not gory at all, and yet, it makes you feel so much through its architecture and sound design. You feel uncomfortable, trapped, belittled — all the feelings the Jews must have felt.” It’s that level of awareness that his museums want to ignite in the audience. “I feel everyone has hidden potential, and the only reason we don’t use it, is because we are distracted. These experiences are meant to remedy that.”

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Our interactive museums are meant to inspire: Museum designer Shekhar Badve