How many times have I walked past the South Asia Collection building (tucked away on Bethel Street) and never twigged what it was? As a lover of history and especially museums I just never clicked this hidden gem was there.
It’s almost as if by being in plain sight it became invisible to me. I had, of course, noticed it before but remember thinking it must be rather ornate and expensive furniture shop that I should have a look when I had the chance. But oh how wrong I was!
Thanks to the organisers of the Festival of East Anglia and Punjab – the Museum-come-shop was used to host the Norwich launch of the festival. Celebrating the historical and modern day connections between the Punjab, its culture and history and that of East Anglia. As you’d imagine there are many, many more links that you probably imagined. I was certainly surprised!
The history celebrated at this event is ultimately one born of Britain’s imperial expansion. Whilst there is much beauty and intrigue in the various talks and exhibitions that for this festival, there is also a darker aspect which speaks to the injustices many Punjabis experienced at the hands of the British. That said, the intrigue, betrayal and ruthlessness portrayed by the Punjabi side, despite often being a result of British empire building, is still pretty breath-taking in its own right.
Although the festival concluded on July 10th, the Museum and its collection will remain accessible here in Norwich.