Mumbai’s newest museum is not set in a monumental building, but rather a simple pushcart that can roll from one street to another.
It’s called Design Museum Dharavi. When it opened last week, it could be found on an unmarked lane in Dharavi, the densely packed shantytown of nearly a million people and one of Asia’s largest slums.
The museum hosts exhibits celebrating the pottery, embroidered garments, wooden carvings and other handicrafts manufactured within Dharavi’s three square kilometers. Over two months, co-founders Amanda Pinatih and Jorge Mañes Rubio will roll the nomadic display through Dharavi’s tightly stitched neighborhoods, co-hosting exhibits, workshops, film screenings and lectures with local residents. Their goal is to showcase the design talent in a stigmatized area that the rest of the city mostly sees as a nuisance and developers mostly view as land for future high rises.
“We look at it in a completely different way,” says Rubio. “Dharavi is full of makers, designers, manufacturers and also entrepreneurs. We just can’t figure out how a place like this is still seen as a problem. We see it as part of a solution to issues of informal settlements not just here but all over the world.”