When I visited the Patan museum for the first time, I was really surprised of the large number of sculptures and objects which are exhibited in many galleries of the museum. Without the map, which is printed on the little guide, the orientation inside the building full of nooks and crannies wouldn’t’ t be very easy. But if you follow the order of the numbered galleries, you will get your bearings easily and pass through the historic development of the different views of Hinduism and Buddhism at the same time. Something remarkable is surely the calm atmosphere inside the museum which represents a thankful contrast to the hectic everyday’s life outside.
The Patan Museum was established in 1997 by the Government of Nepal in cooperation with the Government of Austria and is still the only museum in Nepal which is self-sustaining with its revenues. Built upon the walls of a former palace of the Malla Kings and costly restored, it presents nowadays an abstract of the cultural history of Nepal. There are about 200 objects exhibited which are explained with charts that provide the opportunity to get to know the origin, development and signification of the different exhibits for every interested visitor. Especially interesting is the exhibition of the metal technology, a traditional handicraft to build bronze and copper handiwork in the Kathmandu Valley.
Those who want to visit the whole exhibition in detail can spend various hours in the museum but also a supposed philistine will get enthusiastic about the presented themes of religion and culture. Gallery H, a bit hidden in the rear courtyard, delivers insight into a photo and painting exhibition of ‘historic views of Nepal’ which became my favorite gallery.
I had the chance to spend a few days in the museum for an internship and I really got to know the museum from another side. For me, the building has its special flair –laying in old walls but nevertheless modern restored.
The museum has 23 employees who care about the different galleries and one administrator, whose daily work I gained insight. There are a lot of plans that will be realized in the next time. For example, the museum’ s home page shall be expanded to give visitors from all over the world a first view. My job was to translate the museum’ s flyer handed over at the entrance of the museum from the English language into Spanish. In the near future, this little guide will be printed in more languages like German, Spanish and French but first of all in Chinese because there is a high number of Chinese people who visit the museum.
So, the access to the unfamiliar culture of Buddhism and Hinduism will be made easier for
foreign visitors. The management of the museum also attaches value to the feedback of its
visitors and for this reason there will be established an extra feedback column on the home page.
A special highlight of the Patan museum is the palace’s garden and the museum cafe inside which invites visitors – including myself –to relax and enjoy anytime. In the museum gift shop visitors can buy further literature about the religion and tradition of Nepal and also a detailed guide concerning the whole exhibition.
The museum is praised as one of the finest and best museums of Asia – after my time there I can really confirm this!
Student of geography, Spanish, French at University of Heidelberg, Germany