Museum seeks 300cr for repairs

The museum had undergone a Rs 200-crore modernisation and restoration between 2013 and 2015

By Anasuya Basu in Chowringhee
  • Published 31.03.19, 2:09 AM
  • Updated 31.03.19, 2:09 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Chunks from the ceiling above the arched verandah on the first floor of the Indian Museum have come off at places Telegraph picture

The director of the 144-year-old Indian Museum has sought a Rs 300-crore grant from the Union ministry of culture for repair and restoration of the old museum building and the adminisrative block, demolition of the old staff quarters and construction of a building to create additional display space.

Museum director Rajesh Purohit wrote to the ministry in January, seeking fresh funds to be spent over five years.

The museum had undergone a Rs 200-crore modernisation and restoration between 2013 and 2015. Metro had, in a report on March 14, highlighted how chunks of its walls and corners were breaking off, water dripping from the roof, vegetation sprouting from nooks and lime plaster coming off.

“This is part of the five-year plan that the ministry asks every institution under it to formulate for a continuous and comprehensive development plan instead of piecemeal effort as in the case of the modernisation and renovation carried out during the bicentennial celebrations of the museum,” Purohit said.

The museum director has drawn up a five-year roadmap for the museum, beginning April 2020. The current year will be spent preparing a Detailed Project Report for the plan.

“The focus of the plan will be conservation of the heritage building, including the quadrangle corridors, galleries, conservation lab, storage and green space. Besides, we will also conserve and improve the second block of the old administrative building and demolish the old staff quarters to create more display space,” Purohit said.

Asked how much of the Rs 300 crore would be alloted for repairing the heritage building, Purohit said that was yet to be worked out.

“We have 1.08 lakh artefacts. Only five per cent of them can be displayed. The problem is how to display the remaining 90 per cent,” said the director. “The immediate space that can be created is by demolishing the Line Quarters, a dilapidated structure once home to the museum staff.”

The Line Quarters located right behind the Geological Survey of India offices on the museum premises were till recently home to illegal squatters and had turned into a den of anti-social activities. The quarters were vacated after a long court battle.

The museum campus also houses the Zoological Survey of India and the Government College of Art and Craft.

Purohit intends to demolish the condemned structure and build a multi-storeyed block to accommodate artefacts in a scientifically built visual storage facility and also exhibition galleries for textiles.

A new gallery on India and the world is on the cards. “The administrative block, too, can be utilised to create galleries,” he said. The administrative block now houses the photography section, publication room, director’s residence and cafeteria. A laboratory will be built in the new block and the existing lab revamped.

“Fire hydrants and firefighting measures will be given priority,” Purohit said.

A committee of experts will submit a report on the current state of the building, on the basis of which a Detailed Project Report that will be submitted to the ministry.