The Chime Project: Curating interactive cultural trails

Through their bespoke heritage walks, this city-based initiative successfully blends diverse ideas from music and history

author_img Anjani Chadha Published :  05th August 2022 01:12 PM   |   Published :   |  05th August 2022 01:12 PM
Images from the walks facilitated by The Chime Project at the National Museum

Images from the walks facilitated by The Chime Project at the National Museum

South Delhi resident Shaleen Wadhwana witnessed culturally disparate models of public engagement with history while pursuing a master’s in art history at SOAS University of London in 2012. “I noticed that the guides in London were a lot more passionate, qualified, and structured in how they engaged with the public. When I came back to India, I wanted to go deep into this,” says the 31-year-old who has worked with several museums, heritage organisations, etc., over the last few years.

Later, as part of Ashoka University’s Young India Fellowship in 2014, Wadhwana met East Delhi-based Nymphea Noronha, a multi-instrumentalist who is trained in Western classical music. Wadhwana’s passion for art, Noronha’s zeal for music, and the duo’s curiosity and eagerness to learn from each other resulted in The Chime Project (TCP) in 2019.

With TCP, the duo is on a journey to curate learning experiences that bring together interdisciplinary perspectives to engage with history, art, and music. “We had different areas of expertise but since we started talking, we realised there were connections between history and music. In fact, there are many stories we could create together. Our passions were distinct but in bringing together the two, we were able to create something interesting,” comments Noronha (29), currently a professional with a behavioural science academic centre in the capital.

In touch with heritage 
Since the inception of TCP, Noronha and Wadhwana have been curating and conducting walks at the city’s National Museum—their prime focus is on the Sharan Rani Gallery of Musical Instruments that houses a collection of 450 old and rare instruments. They witness sizable participation of mostly curious individuals and scholars. 

Wadhwana—she also conducts individual heritage walks and tours—and Noronha keeps TCP’s focus within the realms of history and music. Throwing light on the same, she adds, “We wanted to be in venues that define proper music instruments to help us enter history through music. The moment you add music to a heritage walk, it opens it up to an audience  that would probably never come for a history walk because of how niche the subject [history] is. With such walks, we are able to create interdisciplinary learning.”

Exploring multiple domains
Even though both Noronha and Wadhwana have distinct areas of interest—and academic backgrounds—they try to incorporate themes and perspectives across diverse domains such as art, history, sociology, physics, and music. 

One of their USPs, the duo mentions, is curating bespoke walks as per the group they are catering to. Giving us an insight into their method, Wadhwana shares, “In our walks, we question participants. What that does is, it invites the group to answer. This helps us gauge the level of the group, and based on that we would either amp up or reduce the content,” Wadhwana concludes.