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Varda Nisar:
My inspiration

A to-scale mummified or sculpted brown elephant stands on display in a large domed room several floors high. Each floor has railings where people can stand to view the display. What appear to be marble Doric columns run the length of each floor. My first view of Henry, the African Bush elephant in the rotunda at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum on my first ever international trip as part of the Cultural Heritage Workshop hosted by the America Institute of Pakistan Studies in 2012. Photo Credit: Ingfbruno.

Where do museums in Pakistan fit within the larger political upheavals that the country has experienced?

It was the view of 'Henry' that made it apparent to me the lack of wonder and curiosity that I had experienced in museums in Pakistan. I was an adult when I had that first 'aha' moment in a museum, and the sense of loss and sadness at this deprivation in my own home country prompted me to start looking at museums with a critical view. What is it that museums in Pakistan are trying to achieve? How are they engaging with communities at large and what are the ways in which we can make them become truly inclusive?

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