The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Facelift for museum

Chennai, June 18: Classy South Indian bronzes or the finest paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, part of a precious collection of treasures at the government museum here, will no longer look the same. This is thanks to the Jayalalithaa regime’s new heritage preservation initiative aimed at attracting more tourists.

The Rs 4.44 crore facelift marks 151 years of the museum. The latest German-designed Octonorm-type showcases glisten with the latest technology at the museum’s ground floor. The exhibits can be viewed from the rear through bronze-tinted mirrors, much like the Hall of Mirrors at the Versailles Palace, an official press release says.

The museum will be inaugurated by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam tomorrow. Old museum galleries have been re-organised and new ones added, including K-brand showcases with hi-tech “dichroic lighting” on the mezzanine floor.

On the mezzanine and first floors, where the world’s best collection of Nataraja and Vaishnavite bronzes are on display, traditional teakwood showcases have been upgraded to international class.

The first floor gives visitors the feel of a Vaishnavite temple; a Nataraja bronze has been illuminated with fibre-optic lighting, with a model of the cosmos as background. “The entire display is a first for Indian museums,” the government says, claiming intellectual property right over it.

The “progress” of industries and handicrafts in Tamil Nadu gets a special display, while the technology for displaying coins has been changed. Innovative technology has resulted in coins being displayed on an acrylic board so that visitors can see both sides of the coins.

Rare British paintings are to be displayed more prominently in the reorganised Contemporary Art gallery with dichroic lighting. Fibre-optic lighting will illuminate Varma’s paintings.

In another Indian first, holographing of some coins, jewels and bronzes has been completed. The holograms will be displayed soon.

Among other things, the PWD and museum departments are retaining the texture of old stones, restoring stuccoes and making the roof leak-proof. The authorities are also attempting to bring back to life the original open brick structure of the museum, landscape the front side and install modern monument lighting for all buildings in the museum campus.

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