The Indian Museum is being repaired and painted after eight years.
The 144-year-old heritage building had undergone a modernisation and restoration process at a cost of Rs 200 crore during its bicentennial year (2013-14).
The Indian Museum was founded in 1814 at the Asiatic Society and was shifted to its Chowringhee in central Kolkata premises in 1878.
However, soon after the repairs, chunks of the building were breaking off, the roof was leaking and damaging artefact and plaster on the walls were peeling.
In March 2020, just seven days before the pandemic, Indian Museum director A.D. Chowdhury issued a work order for the repair of the museum to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), which could not start the work because of the pandemic-induced lockdowns.
Work could start in October-November of 2020 and continues till this day.
“The total project cost of the repairs was estimated at Rs 4.4 crore. Till date, about 75 per cent of the work has been done. We have till now released Rs 2.5 crore to CPWD,” said the director.
The building had fallen into disrepair because of a lack of maintenance.
“The bicentennial repairs were not followed up with maintenance because of an absence of an annual maintenance contract,” said Chowdhury. Presently, an MoU has been signed with CPWD for annual maintenance and the ongoing repairs are part of that.
The leaky roof of the Indian Museum is being worked on. Part of it has been repaired and the remaining portion will be completed soon, said the director.
The external façade has been repaired and is getting a fresh coat of paint. Inside, the plaster on the walls of the ground floor has been redone and painted.
However, portions of the parapet that had fallen off have yet to be restored. Asked when the work would be over, the director said: “It’s an ongoing process.”
A new gallery space has been created on the first floor where there used to be a preservation lab. Currently, the March to Freedom exhibition is on at this new gallery space.
Re-curation of several galleries, creation of storage and conservation lab, a library and reorganising the museum space as the Anthropological Survey of India office shifts out are some of the works on the agenda of the museum.