A chance to be in the battle field, a lesson in political
history, a touch of culture and entertainment and much, much
more is what the Independence exhibition now on at the BMICH
has in store for you. Chamintha Thilakaratne
takes the reader on a guided tour
Organizers at the Golden Jubilee exhibition at the BMICH were taken by surprise last Tuesday when over 100,000 visitors thronged the grounds. Three days' ticket stocks were sold that day and organisers hurriedly opened more gates and counters to meet the demand.
The BMICH continues to be a hive of activity this week in the wake of the Independence Day celebrations with visitors from all over the island queueing up and braving the tight security to see one of the largest ever exhibitions held in the country.
According to Assistant Secretary to the President Anusha Palpita, the jubilee exhibition aims to highlight the achievements in both the private and the government sectors since Independence.
"There are over 900 stalls at the exhibition site. All the Ministries, and departments that come under each Ministry have been given a chance to exhibit. But it is difficult for anyone to visit all the stalls in one day. One would need at least three days to see them all," said Mr.Palpita. The organizers said the crowds have been increasing by the day. Many visitors agreed that the exhibition was well worth the visit.
Most were from outstation areas. According to them, it was worth travelling
the distance and even taking a day's leave to see the exhibition.
A. Fernandopulle from Nittambuwa said that although he had taught his children as much as he could on Sri Lanka's history and development in various spheres, the opportunity to actually see and learn for themselves was too good to miss.
Ms.Prema Tennakoon from Veyangoda who had come with family members said she and her children had been able to learn a lot about the forces, the achievements of Sri Lankans and see things that they would never otherwise get the opportunity to see.
Describing the exhibition in one word is difficult. Perhaps it would be best explained thus, "it's where not only the past but the future has been brought to one location."
One might find everything within the limits of any person's imagination. Entering from the main gate one would find the Sri Lanka Air Force exhibits, that includes their display of aircraft on the right, and a representation of the mythical "Dandu Monara" also and next to it a model of the Bandaranaike International Airport.
Keeping to the right, one is treated to a variety of stalls displaying
everything from clothes, shoes, toys, handicrafts, food, and other items.
Onto the left from the main entrance, a cultural show by the Police and by the Sri Lanka Navy where battleships and arms have been displayed provides entertainment while visitors, have the opportunity of being on the bridge of a real ship.
Another favourite of most of the visitors is the Sri Lanka Army stall. Apart from the large collection of tanks, and exhibits which depict the history of the army as well as their strength, one is also allowed to be a part of a battle for two and a half minutes, where inside a dark bunker for a few exciting moments the visitor is the soldier who looks out into the battle field.
On the other hand, if it's culture that one is looking for, the Archaeological Department along with the Department of National Museums stall displays archaeological finds in Sri Lanka since 1948. Replicas of rare historical life size statues dating back to the Polonnaruwa kingdom have been constructed and one can also get a glimpse of the backgrounds of our multi-religious culture.
At the same time, one can even open an account at any bank in the country. Inside the main BMICH building, the Central Bank stall has the country's history in currency, where coins bearing the imprint of Her Majesty the Queen to the recently released Rs.200 note and the Rs.1000 and Rs.5000 coins in silver and gold can be seen. Parallel to these exhibits is the portrayal of the history of Parliament visualised through some of the most historic and significant photographs of our leaders.
Outside the building on the corridors are the SLBC, Sri Lanka Telecom,
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, ITN, Postal department and ANCL to name
a few. At the SLBC stall, one can find the first microphones used, speakers,
transmitters, even the podium which was used by the Queen when making a
speech, and the table and chair used by the first announcers such as D.M.Kolombage
all on display.
At SLRC and ITN one can learn how programmes are made while at the Postal Department stall, stamps that are truly collectors items are displayed. At the ANCL stall the first newspapers and printing equipment used as well as 50 years of cartoons and headline stories catch the eye. But, the Telecom exhibit had it all. From the invention of the telephone to the recently tested wristwatch telephone.
If all this history gets to be a little too much to digest, 50 years of entertainment at the cinema where films by the National Film Corporation are available could provide a welcome break.
The exhibition continues until February 20. However, organizers advise all prospective visitors to obtain tickets early from entrance numbers 1,2,3,5,8,9 at Rs.10 for adults, Rs.5 for children, and Rs.3 for school children from 11 a.m. to 10p.m., to avoid any rush. Parking is available in front of D.S.Senanayaka College and visitors are also warned to be careful of their belongings. Special train and bus services have been arranged.
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