Vaacha is a tribal museum placed in the heartland of the Rathwa tribe, a sub-group of Bhils. It is part of the Adivasi Academy founded by Bhasha Research and Publication Centre in 1998. It has been named ‘Vaacha’ as a metaphor for the unheard Adivasi voice. The Rathwa lands border Madhya Pradesh to the east and Rajasthan to the north-west, thus it speaks of the thriving cultural diaspora of the Adivasi land expanding from west to central India. The museum speaks of time and space layered in different strata of history. Evidence of 12000 BC rock paintings and remnants of the medieval period Tejgadh fort are present in its vicinity at half a kilometer distance from the Academy. This is how the museum blends with its surrounding, representing socio-cultural identity of the place.
The sense of belonging and identity is at the core of the Museum’s ideology as its curators, collectors, documenters and conservationists are from the same land and community. From its foundation it has resolved not to imitate other ethnographic museums in subject or design. Thus, Vaacha museum resolved to be of open walls fusing with the surrounding landscape and merging with the resources of the Adivasi Academy such as its library, Bhasha Van, Lakhara artist studio, Vasantshala school, traditional medicine garden, workshop space, etc. The museum stands as an ideal example of contextual space of learning from the Adivasi culture.
Museums are active agents of social process, revitalization, representation and expressions of cultures, and Vaacha has taken many initiatives in this direction. In its annual program, the Tur Tribal Music Festival is an important event where people from different Adivasi communities are invited to perform, not on ‘stage’ but in open spaces across the 10 acres of the Academy premises in natural surroundings.
Vaacha museum and the Adivasi Academy complex is designed in tune with the mud houses of the Adivasi in the vicinity made with environmentally friendly red exposed bricks. It blends well with the surrounding earthy colours. The architect of the Adivasi complex is Vadodara based renowned architect Karan Grover.
Anthropology, Indigenous Culture
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
09:30 a.m. - 05:30 p.m.
Best Time to Visit
The museum could be visited anytime of the day during office hours. Usually it does not remain crowded, but prior appointment with the PRO of Adivasi Academy helps in seeing it with the curator. Assistant curator is present all the time in the museum.
Rs. 150 for foreigners
Rs. 100 for Indians (only adults)
Entry to the museum is free for local visitors and students
Adivasi Academy, Village Tejgadh, District Chota Udepur, Gujarat
Adivasi Academy is 90 Kilometer from Vadodara city in Gujarat. Railways - one can take train from Pratapgarh station (in Vadodara) to Tejgadh. From Tejgadh Railway station Adivasi Academy is at a distance of 1 kilometer. Bus - Regular state government buses runs from Baroda Bus stand going to Chota Udepur/Alirajpur. It takes around three hours to reach Tejgadh. Nearest airport is Vadodara from where Taxi could be hired to reach Tejgadh. It takes 2 hours.
Musical performance on demand
Curator, Narain Rathwa
Nagin Rathwa, PRO (9879250378); Narain Rathwa, Curator (9586032279)
The museum also includes visit to the Bhasha Van and Documentation Centre. Bhasha Van is A/V guide walk through the trees which represent more than 100 Indian languages. Documentation Centre has digitized collection of musical and performative traditions of Adivasis across the country and also houses archive of Consortium of Museums Project. If one has enough time, then visit to these two is also recommended.
Tur Music Festival and craft workshops are organized regularly. There is no standard calendar for it as these events are dependent on availability of funds. Prior announcements are made on website and Bhasha’s social media page from where one can take updates.
Museum Acquisition Policy - Acquisition of museum collection is a regular feature of Vaacha museum. Various workshops are organized for revival of traditional crafts and their documentation. This leads to regular acquisition of artifacts from tribal communities. Also, some of the articles made of terracotta and wood displaced in open spaces require replacement due to withering. This helps in regular commissioning of the tribal artisans. The Museum also has its shop for which craft objects are acquired regularly.
Adivasi Academy has residential primary school Vasantshala of children from migrant tribal families. Vaacha museum is open to these children 24 hours with freedom to take out any musical instrument of their choice to play. This leads to damage sometime. Such articles are either repaired or acquired newly. This established Vaacha as a museum of living culture rather than a museum of antiquity.
Museum Display Policy - The curators, care-taker, cleaners and restorers are all from the tribal community of the region. Thus, the display of the museum is left to their choice. It keeps changing with season as the direction of light keeps changing (the museum does not use artificial spot-lights). Certain delicate objects which are in glass showcases remain permanently displaced, while the rest are relocated according to requirements. This happens twice a year.
Museum Mapped By
Interesting Things About the Museum
1) The museum collection has been acquired and displayed by the Adivasis themselves.
2) It is a museum of open walls which breaks the notion of a protected enclosed space.
3) The musical instruments displayed in the museum are played and demonstrated by the Assistant curator and other staff. Vasantshala students are free to use them to their choice, many a time at night. It remains open 24 hours.