Napier Museum, one of India’s oldest, to get makeover

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 21 (IANS) The Napier Museum here, one of India’s oldest and housing artefacts dating back to the first century, needs to undergo a restoration process — both for the building and its collection, top international and Indian experts have decided.

The Napier Museum, located in the heart of the Kerala capital, is named after Lord Napier, the governor of Madras. It was designed by Chison, the consulting architect of the then Madras government and completed in 1880.

The Kerala government had earlier constituted an expert committee under Velayudhan Nair, former professor and head of the National Museum Institute.

A four-day workshop of the expert panel here discussed conservation of the museum.

Experts like John Scott, president of the New York Conservation Center; Gabriela Krist of the Institute of Conservation University of Applied Arts in Vienna; and B.V. Khabade, director of the National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Culture Property were part of the panel.

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“It has been decided to submit a detailed project report to conserve the building structure and the museum collection,” Nair told reporters here on Sunday at the conclusion of the workshop.

The museum collection includes more than 550 objects, including textiles.

It has stones from the first century, bronze items from the eighth century and wooden objects from the 12th century and more than 5,000 coins.

Krist said the museum has a proper inventory and the objects were in good condition.

“Generally in museums, only 20 percent of the objects are put up for exhibition, while 80 percent are kept under storage. But here it’s not like that.

“Overall, the materials are in good condition. When the report is prepared, we would lay emphasis on maintaining the humidity inside the museum and also on the concept of safe storage,” said Krist.

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Scott said the report would recommend adopting scientific processes of restoration of the building.

“Once the report is ready, it would go for an all-India tender because what we require is the service and expertise of those who are in this business,” said Scott.

The experts also said immediate attention should be given to the building — leaks on the roof have to be plugged immediately as the monsoon is round the corner.

Khabade said that at the moment, it was premature to say when the restoration work would start or the budget required, but once the project report comes in, they would be willing to extend financial assistance.

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