Mehnat Manzil is a museum that celebrates the life of people working in the informal sector. It brings forth their stories and realities. A collection of “art, artifact, and testimony,” the museum is in Gupta Nagar. The mill laborers settled with their families after the cotton mill shut down in Ahmedabad in the last century.
The museum opened in 2019, but as the world, it took a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. But, now, it has officially begun journey and is ready to shed light upon the eternal spirits of informal sector.
The museum is a collaboration between Saath and Conflictorium. Saath, a public charitable trust, has always been for the informal sector, working with socially marginalized and vulnerable communities. On the other hand, ‘Conflictorium’ is a museum that addresses the theme of conflict. It seeks to create an open space for dialogue with the help of art and cultural practices.
Why This Concept?
“The lack of representation for the informal sector and unawareness amongst the citizens was the drive behind the concept. The people have also started taking the informal sector for granted. One of the critical things the museum tries to say to its visitors is privilege. It showcases that artistry belongs to privilege and the need to respect the informal sector,” says Anuja Vora, working with Saath and Conflictorium.
Such simple examples in the museum speak louder than any of us with words have ever tried to do for the informal sector.
Pre-pandemic, the number of people employed in India in the informal sector was 81%. But, post-pandemic the number has risen to above 90%.
The museum is not trying to make its visitor feel pity or sad for the informal sector and the struggles they have faced and still facing. Its motive is to spread the conversation about sectors’ efforts that have been suffering for decades.
The hands that build a city are homeless, dislocated, and often migrate. The ‘small museum’ is trying to be a place that tells the true stories of the sector’s injustice, triumphs, and respect.
Pictures By- Aastha Vyas