Chief minister Nitish Kumar dedicated the much awaited Rs 517 crore Bihar Museum to the public on Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary and expressed happiness that it would help showcase the invaluable exhibits related to the history of the state and the country.
The chief minister also said that Patna Museum, which is celebrating its centenary, will be refurbished and modernised.
Since more than 3,000 most precious artefacts, including the idol of Yakshi, have been shifted from Patna Museum to the new facility, several experts had expressed apprehension that it would lead to the end of its attraction.
"It is a happy occasion that the various sections of Bihar Museum have been dedicated to the public today. This has been achieved despite several difficulties that we had to face. A section of it was inaugurated on August 7, 2015. The exhibits from our past would be displayed in new and modern ways, similar to what I had seen in some museums in other countries," said Nitish, for whom the Bihar Museum was a dream project.
The chief minister pointed out that the best of international experts were hired. Canada-based Lord Cultural Resources was the master consultant while Japanese firm Maki and Associates was chosen as the main architectural consultant for Bihar Museum.
The museum will be thrown open to the public from Tuesday. It will have seven galleries - orientation, children's, history, visible storage, historical art, regional art, Bihari diaspora - to take the visitors through the journey across time.
Nitish said that in future visitors taking a ticket for Patna Museum will also be able to visit Bihar Museum and vice-versa.
"Patna Museum has a large number of exhibits and artefacts and it was facing a shortage of space to even display them. They were just stored there. We saw that fifty statues were kept in one room. People would just come and see them without even knowing about them," Nitish said.
"This led to our decision to construct a new museum where artefacts could be kept safe, with proper display and lighting, which was not possible at Patna Museum," Nitish added.
The chief minister narrated that 18 invaluable statues from the Patna Museum were stolen soon after he came to power in 2005. Though the case was handed over to the CBI, the Bihar police managed to find 17 of the stolen idols. One that could not be traced was a small one. The height of the boundary wall of the museum was raised after the incident.
"Still so many rumours were spread by people who are inclined to oppose anything new or who just oppose just for the sake of opposing. They said that the manuscripts and objects brought by (scholar and adventurer) Rahul Sankrityayan should remain in Patna Museum. Cases were filed in Patna High Court. However, we overcame all difficulties," Nitish said.
The chief minister expressed anguish at how some people criticised the construction of Bihar Museum as a wastage of public money. Nitish had a poser for them: if he could expand the budget of the state from Rs 28,000 crore to Rs 1.6 lakh crore, did he not have the right to make a new museum for Bihar to exhibit its glory for future generations?
Asserting that Patna Museum will be refurbished, modernised and beautified, Nitish said those who want to know about the history of Bihar and India will have to visit both facilities.
"The Patna Museum is the third oldest museum in the country after the ones in Calcutta and Chennai. Nobody needs to lecture us on the importance of Patna Museum. We will refurbish it so that exhibits are showcased there in a proper manner. It will be made modern and contemporary," Nitish said.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and art and culture minister Krishna Kumar Rishi were among the dignitaries present.