Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston or EGMH (formerly known as Mahatma Gandhi Library), a 501c3 entity, established in 2002, has undertaken the challenge of establishing a place-based arts initiative. The guiding principle for this project is to create—through the life and work of Gandhi—a thriving, vibrant educational organization aimed at changing the world through its visitors while creating a sustainable and successful new resource for the Greater Houston area. The museum will highlight various world leaders and their journeys depicting the power of peaceful resistance to settle conflicts nonviolently. The ultimate goal is to encourage visitors to embrace these values in their own lives and create positive force for social good.
According to Rice University Professor Dr. Stephen Klineberg, noted demographics expert and sociologist, Houston is one of the most vibrant, culturally expansive places in the United States. Its urban sprawl is bigger than Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia combined.
Houston’s cultural diversity makes it rich with opportunities for residents and visitors alike to explore cultural activities, experience different kinds of foods, and meet people of various backgrounds. Conversely, experts say that some may be overwhelmed by the richness, that governing and managing a diverse city is more difficult, and conflict is inevitable.
It is clear that, today, there is no greater priority in our rapidly changing, multi-cultural community than to implement strategies that enable nonviolent conflict resolution.
Mahatma Gandhi changed the lives of millions of people in India and around the world by serving as an apostle of truth and peace and by showing that profound social change can be achieved through peaceful means. By telling the story of Gandhi and the leaders he inspired, the Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston assures to activate a collection of educational initiatives that encourage children, youth, and adults to choose the path of peaceful conflict resolution.
With the goal of inspiring people to transform themselves and their communities, the development of the exhibit design and fabrication focuses on two target audiences:
- Primary audience: all visitors must see themselves in the story of Gandhi—people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities are invited to explore and engage in this experience
- Student audience: age-appropriate activities and content tailored to meet the needs of school groups and the State of Texas curriculum standards, specifically the Independent School Districts in the Greater Houston Area
Considerations for both audiences include multicultural, multilingual interpretation, and non-denominational messaging, and inclusive materials that feature global leaders and activists from North America.
The visitor experience encourages exploration and engagement with Gandhi’s story. The experience delivers key messages through thought-provoking, immersive experiences designed to educate, entertain, and facilitate true change.
The concept is simple – to create a place where people of diverse backgrounds can come together and learn the stories of leaders who were committed to make profound social change through peaceful means. Their stories, in concert with experiential learning, dialogue, and the practical application of nonviolent conflict resolution and mediation, will propagate the message of peace and demonstrate the power of peaceful resistance to right social injustices and inequities.
To change the world, we must first believe that change is possible. Through the story of Gandhi’s life, his liberation of India, and the application of non-violent protests by subsequent leaders around the globe, we find compelling evidence that the power of truth and peace can transform each of us and the world.
This concept does challenge our assumptions of museums. Museums are traditionally collection-based; they “tend to be about something but not for someone” (Stephen E. Weil). In this case, this unique museum is for someone—creating champions of peace with each visit. It is mission-driven, focused on timeless teachings and positive outcomes, and a vital place to cultivate community dialogue and understanding.
The exhibitions, experiences, and resources of the Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston are designed to be relevant, timely, and globally focused. Informed by quantitative data and qualitative feedback, the museum programming will engage students and teachers to support the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the state standards for public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, with an emphasis on social studies curriculum. The program development will also help shape globally competent and civic-minded citizens.
Further, creating a place for people of diverse cultures, ethnicities, religions, and races to gather and learn how to have an open, honest, and respectful exchange of ideas appeals to the teachers themselves, as well as a student population that extends to beyond post-secondary education and career-starter age groups.
Ground breaking of Eternal Gandhi Museum was performed in April 2021. Construction is progressing as per schedule. The Museum is expected to open in early 2023.
The capital campaign for the Eternal Gandhi Museum is led by the Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston Fundraising Committee, consisting of Board members Devinder Mahajan, Dr. Manish K. Wani, Atul Kothari, and Ajit Paralkar. The Museum will be managed by a Museum Director with Dr. Wani serving as Executive Director.
The proposed budget for construction and endowment is 9.5 million dollars. The total construction cost to build the museum is $6.5 million. The capital campaign for EGMH has reached $3.1 million for the building, design and construction. The EGMH Board of Trustees has committed $1.1 million and secured another $1.4 million in private donor commitments. The Houston Endowment Foundation recently awarded a capital grant of $500,000 and The Elkins Foundation awarded $100,000. A concerted fundraising campaign is underway through foundations, corporations and private donors to raise the remaining $6.4 million. We look forward to your support to transform this inspiration into action.
All gifts to the Eternal Gandhi Museum will be recognized on our virtual donor wall in the museum lobby. We plan to develop a meaningful and sincere way to display our deep appreciation for all gifts – large or small – to our campaign and acknowledge all Museum supporters while also keeping the integrity of the space.