Birkbeck Centre for Museum Cultures hosts First UK screening of Pakistan's Best Kept Secret - Lahore Museum
Lahore Museum has a rich, ancient and varied collection which demonstrates the historical wealth, religious and cultural plurality of Pakistan, one of the largest Muslim majority countries in the world, with large diasporic communities across the globe. The film explores the significance of the Museum in Asia, but also in Britain today. Its collection tells stories of ancient cultures: Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim histories, and those of empire, trade, the arrival of the East India company, the contribution of British Indian soldiers in World Wars I and II, the partition of India, and the creation of Pakistan. It also gives some insight into life in Pakistan today.
The film features Anwar Akhtar, British Pakistani journalist and director of samosa media, in conversation with the Lahore Museum’s ex-director Sumera Samad, and playwright Shahid Nadeem (Ajoka Theatre Company). They view the Museum's collection, and discuss the future role of the institution within Pakistan’s wider social, political, religious and cultural context today as well as Pakistan’s relationships with Britain.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Professor Chandak Sengoopta (Department of History, Classics & Archaeology, Birkbeck), Hammad Nasar (Executive Director, Stuart Hall Foundation), Anwar Akhtar, and chaired by Dr. Sarah Thomas (Director, Centre for Museum Cultures, Birkbeck). The discussion will consider Lahore Museum’s collection within a global context of sectarian tensions, culture wars and the populist rhetoric of politicians today. It will also ask how films like this can support and embed diversity in museums.
Anwar Akhtar is the Founder/ Director of The Samosa Media project, www.thesamosa.co.uk and led The Royal Society of Arts & Commerce Pakistan Calling www.pkcalling.com project, which produced over 70 films looking at education, culture, religion, development, conflict resolution, women, and minority rights in the UK and Pakistan. He was the production consultant on the play Dara, working with Ajoka Theatre Pakistan and the National Theatre UK and Director, The Rich Mix Centre.