The condition of the government museum in the City and the adjacent Venkatappa Art Gallery which have some of the most priceless artefacts, sculptures and paintings have turned from bad to worse.
The museum — the second oldest in south India after the Madras Museum — is at present nothing short of an old house with no inhabitants.
To begin with, the museum which was established in 1865 by the British, was set to store artefacts and other historically relevant items, mostly from the Mysore region. Back in those days, the place attracted huge crowds that were a part of the age-old Bangalore Karaga festival.
A good chunk of the sculptures stored are the ones that cannot be seen anywhere else in India and some, only in India. For instance, the Buddha sculpture kept in the museum is actually from Gandhara (present-day Kandahar in Afghanistan). In order to see sculptures of this kind, one may have to travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Musical instruments made out of the brass displayed at the museum have developed stains, a sign that attention has not been paid for a long time.
Director in-charge, D H Talwar, and Commissioner of Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, C G Betsurmath, took turns to blame each other when contacted. “The exhibits kept are not even described properly except the name and the era it belongs to. How is a layman supposed to understand what he is looking at? Considering the value of things kept, the maintenance should at least match international standards as a good number of visitors are foreigners. The staff strength is not sufficient either,” said Byregowda M, folklorist and archaeologist.
“The condition is terrible. The officials do not understand the value of the variety of stuff stored here. There is a set from the stone age that can be considered as one of the oldest antiquities in the world which was excavated from Attirampakkam in Tamil Nadu. But its condition today is pathetic. There should at least be periodic chemical cleaning of the artefacts stored, but instead, nobody is bothered,” said a historian who did not want to be named.
The place also exhibits the first-ever inscription in Kannada that is in Halmidi. There are no catalogues or brochures containing information and the exhibits are kept under poor lighting. The adjacent Venkatappa Art Gallery too is not attractive anymore. The artworks on display, which were made by royal artist Venkatappa, are on the brink of serious damage. Cracks have developed on the plaster of paris used and the painting frames are not even dusted everyday.