Balancing Tradition and Modernity at The New Indian Music Experience

February 4, 2019
February 4, 2019

G&A Principal, Sujit Tolat, shares his experience opening the first interactive music museum in India.

From classical to contemporary, and with over 120 regional forms, the music of India is the pulse that beats through the country. Now, for the first time, Bangalore becomes home to a new museum that pays homage to India’s vast musical landscape. The Centre for Indian Music Experience (IME), long in the works, opened February 4, 2019.

Indian Music Experience, Interview with Sujit Tolat

Creating such a museum proved no easy task. Sujit Tolat, Principal at G&A Asia, has experience with music museums such as The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and the Museum at The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY. Yet the IME presented its own unique set of challenges.

For Tolat, developing the narrative structure and visitor experience were crucial. The design team grappled with how to approach the vast history of music in India, what to include and what to leave out, and how much to tell and in what way. “All of these questions were discussed in detail with content experts and the IME team to arrive at solutions that would create an exciting visitor experience,” Tolat said.

Crafting a compelling visitor experience for IME meant stepping outside of tradition and forging personal connections with the audience through sensory and intellectual stimulation and social interaction. With over 20 years of experience working internationally in the museum exhibition experience industry, Tolat has an instinct of what works in terms of storytelling, design and the visitor experience.

We wanted to ensure that the content engages visitors of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of interest in music,” he explained. “We wanted an experience that is relevant, authentic and would appeal to an inter-generational audience.

IME strikes a delicate balance of tradition and novelty in both form and content. Visitors with different levels of interest in music can explore traditional as well as non-traditional and contemporary forms of Indian music. Technology and interactive media support this richness and depth of content while catering to a wider variety of learning styles.

Today, technology has created many new interpretive tools to enhance the museum exhibition and experience marketplace,” said Tolat. “At IME one of the goals was to present content through interactive media, and we are very happy with the results.

Visitors to IME will have the opportunity to interact with music that appeals to their own interests while experiencing and sharing content in intimate and communal settings. Layered content allows visitors to explore the museum at their own pace and dig deeper into specific areas based on their tastes, while multiple interpretive entry points appeal to guests from different backgrounds, ages, and interests.

But visitors shouldn’t expect to remain squarely in their comfort zones. IME often juxtaposes stories or musical genres that don’t appear to be connected to create new dialogues and storylines, allowing for fresh perspectives about the interconnectedness of all music. Visitors should expect to leave with a rich understanding and appreciation of new forms of Indian music.

Rich content and a vibrant visitor experience will be at the heart of IME. The museum has made a great effort to revitalize the way people experience Indian museums.

We hope to lead with an approach that is educational and engaging while also being fun and entertaining,” Tolat said. “IME aims to set a new benchmark in the way museums are experienced on the Indian landscape.