Pvt museums are vital links between past and present

SALALAH, May 1 – Some small initiatives become crucial evidences of history and culture of a place, society and country. They work as missing links between past and present. This initiative and its impact were evident at the recently concluded exhibition of two private museums at the Directorate of Heritage and Culture in Salalah. The exhibitors and collectors Shaikh Mohammed Abdul Mohsin al Ghassani of Salalah and Salem Ahmed al Amri of Taqah displayed some selected collections at the exhibition, which were not only interesting to see but were very educative in understanding the history and culture of Oman.
“There are many personal museums in Dhofar, but not all of them have capacity to be converted into public museums as their collections are limited and the collectors have their own limitations in co-relating the collected items with time and date,” said Hamza Mohammed Abdul al Ghassani, son of Shaikh Mohammed al Ghassani while explaining about the collector’s efforts.
“Some of my father’s collections date back to 200 years, as he meticulously collected those items and kept on storing them in a room, which we in the family used to call ‘our father’s trash store room’ until we realised their importance,” he said.
Some of the collected photographs, sketches and documents are so authentic that they are helpful in tracing the trade links of Dhofar with other countries, besides having the contemporary currencies in use during those days.
Similarly, Salem Ahmed al Amri exhibited his collections under the banner of Taqah Museum. Among his collections on display were old ornaments, coins and currency notes of Oman in different dynasties and some rare day-to-day household items, which indicated the struggle of people in developing facilities for day-to-day living. “I have house full of such items. Segregating them and maintaining them is an uphill task but I never get tired in getting them managed due my interest in old things. I get good support from my family,” said Al Amri.
He feels like serving a great duty of educating the new generation about the rich heritage of Oman when school and college students visit his private museum and ask for his assistance in completing some research.
Citing these collections and particularly that of the frankincense burners, a visitor said he did not know that the symbol of frankincense burners was associated with Oman for more than 2,000 years.
“I read somewhere that the history of frankincense burners dates back to 3rd century BC and the 4th century AD (around 2,300 years ago)…This has been proved by the Italian Mission in Oman (IMTO), which is involved in the excavation work at Sumharam near Salalah,” he said.
Al Amri of Taqah Museum said the collectors like him kept on collecting old items and got delighted when someone expressed interest in his collections. He wants to organise his collections properly and give it a shape of proper museum.

Kaushalendra Singh