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Museum to turn into gallery for British relics

- Paintings & coins from Raj era to stay at existing facility after state-of-the-art repository opens

Patna Museum will transform into an art gallery after the international Bihar Museum is ready for inauguration.

The Bihar Museum is coming up on the southern flank of Bailey Road. Chief minister Nitish Kumar laid the foundation of the state-of-the-art museum in July last year.

With work starting on the new building, many had questions on the fate of the existing Patna Museum. So, the department of art, culture and youth affairs has taken an in-principle decision to shift most of the historical artefacts to the upcoming Bihar Museum and leave the ancient paintings and other art items at the existing facility.

“Though the final plan on the exhibits to be kept at Bihar Museum would be finalised later, an in-principle decision has been taken to shift most of the historical and archaeological exhibits from Patna Museum,” said a senior official in the directorate of museums, art, culture and youth affairs department.

He added: “The items to be retained at Patna Museum include coins, instruments, textiles, thankas (paintings on silk with embroidery) and collection of paintings from the British period. The idea is to focus on Patna and how it has evolved over the years.”

Patna Museum can be traced back to the discovery of the Mauryan palace at Kumrhar in the excavations of 1913. The authorities then decided to develop an establishment to house the antiques of the region. Initially, these were kept at the then commissioner’s bungalow and in 1917, moved to the north wing of Patna High Court. The construction of Patna Museum as we know it now started in 1917. It was opened to public in 1928.

While decisions are being taken on the future of Patna Museum, work is on war footing at the upcoming Bihar Museum. The contract has been given to Larsen & Toubro. Sources said the project is expected to meet the deadline for inauguration set by Nitish — March 22, 2015.

The art, culture and youth affairs department has initiated the process of appointing officials for the new museum. The departments of building construction and art, culture and youth affairs are developing the state-of-the-art facility.

The museum directorate official said: “Applications have been invited by Bihar Museum Society (a registered society to look after the Bihar Museum) for various posts, including director, additional director and curator, for the upcoming facility. The idea is to complete all the formalities to run the museum by the time construction is complete.”

He added: “The theme for the Bihar Museum is ‘Contribution of Bihar in the evolution of Indian civilisation’. The exhibits would be complemented with audio-visual and interactive attractions. Apart from the primary exhibits, secondary sources such as 3D panels and interactive kiosks would present a holistic picture of how the subcontinent has developed over time. There would be a separate block for children too.”

The Bihar Museum would be divided in four different zones — educational, lobby, administrative and permanent gallery. The educational zone would comprise a library and a learning centre where courses on archaeology and history will be taught. The permanent gallery zone would have a Buddhist sculpture courtyard.


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