Showcasing pieces of history

Showcasing pieces of history

The name St Aloysius is as good as being synonymous with Mangaluru. St Aloysius Institutions are a premier place of education in the city, known for their facilities and majestic buildings. Likewise, St Aloysius College houses the Aloyseum, a museum, in one of the oldest buildings of the institution.

The museum was inaugurated in 1913 in the red building of the campus, with the items brought by Fr Chiappi, from Italy. He brought in a herbarium, a collection of Roman coins and commemorative medals, some of which were gifts from Collegio Vieta, Italy. The museum was renovated and relocated many times over the years until 1995 when it was brought back to the original place, the red building. Now, it is all set to move into a bigger space with more antiques in its kitty.

Array of antiques

The artefacts in this museum take the elderly down memory lane while opening up a whole new world of knowledge for the youngsters. The museum has four rooms dedicated to displaying the objects, some of which date back to the stone age - they are essentially stone tools, leaves and twigs.

The first room is used to showcase musical instruments. Gramophones, vinyl discs, a piano, harmonium, accordion, various types of radios and a wide range of cameras are placed here. It also includes Mangaluru's first brass band.

The second room comprises wooden objects that were used in household work by our ancestors. Besides, there is a huge whale skull that touches the roof, and there are skulls and skeletons of a horse, antelope, wild boar, tiger, elephant etc. Horns, snakeskin, crocodile skin and eggs of different birds are also on display. Just below the roof, on the wall, there are animal fur and animal heads on display.

Furthermore, copies of paintings by Europeans, mineral specimens, telegraphic equipment, antique telephone sets, palm leaf manuscripts, Portuguese statues and a pulpit from Cordel Church are housed in the museum. There are swords, daggers, bullets and Tipu Sultan's gun in this museum. Interestingly, it also has Mangaluru's first electric generator dating back to 1930. And, exhibits like an old bicycle and a bullock cart provide us a glimpse of our past.

One of the showcases in the museum has priestly vestments dating back to 1878. The Old Missal, a book containing the texts used in the Catholic Mass throughout the year, is displayed alongside. It is the size of a broadsheet newspaper and could easily weigh several kilos, one would need the help of two to three persons to lift the book.

Many firsts

One of the highlights of this museum is the De Deon automobile, the first car of Mangaluru. It was imported from Paris by PFX Saldanha of Highland Coffee Works fame. It is said that, when it landed in Mangaluru in 1906, it attracted many curious spectators wherever it went. But, it didn't venture out much because of the lack of petrol. At that time, petrol had to be brought from Madras in drums under a special license.

In 1907, when the Governor of Madras, Sir Arthur Lawley, visited Mangaluru, the De Deon was lent to the Governor's party to take his two daughters to Karkala to see the Gomateshwara statue. This single-cylinder, 8-10HP car had a maximum speed of 19 miles. It had an open top, but in 1920 a hood was fitted over the front seats. It was donated to the museum in 1956, without the engine. Another attraction in this museum are the pieces of the Berlin Wall, which was demolished in 1990. These pieces were collected by veteran scientist, Fr Leo D'Souza SJ, who witnessed the incident.

Kavitha, the museum's curator, says, "Each piece in the museum has a long and an interesting history. In fact, the space in the museum is not sufficient to display the artefacts." The management intends to shift the exhibits to a bigger space.

The museum is open between 9 am and 5 pm from Sunday to Friday. On Saturdays, it is open between 9 am and 12.30 pm. For more information, one can log on to staloysiuscollege.co.in.

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