Museum building worry

Museum director has sought a Rs 300-crore grant from the ministry of culture for repair and restoration of the old museum building and the administrative block

By Anasuya Basu in Calcutta
  • Published 1.04.19, 11:25 AM
  • Updated 1.04.19, 11:25 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Hartwig Fischer at the Indian Museum on Sunday. Bishwarup Dutta

British Museum director Hartwig Fischer spotted a broken ceiling on his first visit to the Indian Museum on Sunday.

Pointing to the damaged roof of the building of 1875 vintage, Fischer, who is on a two-day visit to the city, told his counterpart at the Indian Museum, Rajesh Purohit, “You have some maintenance to do.”

Metro had reported on March 14 how the Indian Museum building that underwent a modernisation and restoration between 2013 and 2015, has chunks of its walls and corners breaking off, water dripping from the roof, vegetation sprouting from nooks and lime plaster peeling off. Architects had said the condition of the building suggests a shoddy restoration job.

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

Fischer, the first non-British to head the British Museum, was impressed by the collection of artefacts at the Indian Museum. “That’s a mighty big collection,” he said when told there were over 1,08,000 artefacts.

Looking at the late 19th century neo-classical building designed by Walter Granville, Fischer asked: “Do you take an interest in the architecture of this building? Back in London, when I took over as director I asked about the grand pediment at the south entrance. We tried to identify the history and stories behind the pediment,” said the art historian, taking pictures of the quadrangle and the grand corridors around it.

He was taken around the archaeology section, the Sivalik fossils gallery, the Bharhut gallery and the Mughal miniature and Bengal School of Art galleries on the first floor.