ISLAMABAD: UNESCO and the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC) have joined hands to improve the Taxila Museum’s educational role.“It is a sad reality that we don’t usually hear children excitedly telling their parents, ‘Let’s go to the museum.’ In today’s age of gadgets and gizmos, cartoon channels aplenty, and infinite interactive options on social media, the rich learning opportunities presented by activities geared towards cultural heritage are lost in the white noise of technology. However, if children are offered the opportunity of combining their love for technology and efforts are made by the development community to make museums interesting again, it exponentially increases the chance that children would develop an inclination and a sense of appreciation for the objects carefully conserved and displayed behind locked cases,” that was the forethought that went into the project designed by UNESCO with the financial support of SDC.The project’s closing ceremony was conducted on Wednesday. A one-and-a-half year venture, the project was broken down into three components; firstly, museum staff were trained and capacitated to develop a digital inventory of museum artefacts; secondly, the educational role of the museum was improved by developing a web application with QR codes that allow visitors to engage with the artefacts safely and securely; thirdly, in order to generate interest among children by creating interactive material for them to learn about the Gandharan Civilisations, and encourage them to become “ambassadors of cultural heritage”, the project also trained teachers to educate students about the same.The museum, which was subject to disappearing artefacts and a lack of informational plaques next to display cases, now hosts digital kiosks that anyone with an Android-enabled phone can easily access and download.The online application will provide a new platform that can serve as a learning opportunity for children and adults alike. The bilingual application, developed by the Technology for People’s Initiative at the Lahore University of Management Sciences is audio and text enabled, with pictures and panoramas of the Taxila World Heritage Site.The closing event was attended by development partners, members of civil society, academics, schoolchildren, teachers and some officials of the government. The opening address was delivered by UNESCO Pakistan Director & Representative Vibeke Jensen, and was followed by the Swiss Ambassador to Pakistan Thomas Kolly.Vibeke Jensen lauded the work of the implementing partners and the Taxila Museum staff, and stated, “It is necessary, that our cultural heritage is not only protected, but that museums and their collections are brought into the 21st century through creative means that redefine them as modern strongholds of ancient heritage.” Thomas Kolly expressed Switzerland’s commitment to the protection and preservation of culture and art, and how effective contributions can be made towards promoting diversity, tolerance and peace. He said, “This museum reflects a rich history and varied achievements of the people of Taxila during the last 4,000 years.” Published in Daily Times, February 15th 2018.