History Reloaded

2Gallery of Tanjore and Mysore School of South Indian Paintings

More often than not, a visit to the National Museum in the Capital is never a complete experience. While some or the other gallery is always closed, other visits are all about workers hammering away behind closed doors. In October 2007, Gallery of Tanjore and Mysore School of South Indian Paintings closed down, with its 88 paintings— rich in technique and symbology, and created in textures such as gold, silver, precious and semi-precious stones and metal— from the late 18th to the early 20th century stored in a vault. The refurbished section of the gallery finally opened its doors on Friday in a new avatar. "One of the things that people have been criticising the National Museum for is that some of the galleries are closed. So we have embraced a time-bound programme to reopen these galleries," says Venu V, Director-General, National Museum.

The paintings, restoredas part of an ongoing conservation project, are set against a dark-green backdrop with "picture-specific" LED lighting (as opposed to the dull "creamish" tone earlier). "We are very careful about improving our curatorial approach, gallery design and interpretation of works," says Venu.

Among others, the crowd-pullers from this gallery are from the Tanjore School and include Navaneeta Krishna— an 1830 work commissioned by Tanjore king Shivaji II and Nataraja Shiva and Rama Pattabhisheka from the early 19th century. The Mysore paintings, on the other hand, have the popular Shiva-Parvati and Sita-Ram wedding scenes from the late 18 th century.

Some of the galleries to be opened in the coming months include the jade and ivory section (set to open in June), gallery with bronze collection and galleries on Central Asian antiques and manuscripts.

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