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Building a Dream

Bhau Daji Lad Museum looks to enter the league of world-class museums with a international competition for their new wing

Written by VIDYA PRABHU | Published: December 12, 2013 2:15 am

Bhau Daji Lad Museum looks to enter the league of world-class museums with a international competition for their new wing

Bhau Daji Lad Museum’s last major restoration took place between 2003 and 2007,and was the first of its kind — private-public partnership. This also marked a revival in the museum’s programmes with new art shows and collaborations. There are now plans to set up a new building,called the North Wing which is expected to have an area of around 85,000 to 1,10,000 square feet. “The new building will address the need for additional space — it will house a new gallery and facilities such as an interpretation centre,a library,an archive,a conservation centre,a new museum shop and cafe,” says Tasneem Mehta,Managing Trustee and Honorary Director for the museum. At the heart of the new wing will be a permanent gallery that will serve as a platform for all things relevant to contemporary Mumbai,including tracking milestones in the city’s history through various shows. It will also play host to major touring exhibitions.

Looking to source the best talent for this ambitious 100-crore project,the museum has roped in London-based Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) to organise a two-stage competition that has been thrown open to design teams across the world. Mehta says that after the Patna museum — which got a facelift by Tokyo-based architecture firm Maki and Associates — this is the second time an Indian museum is attracting expertise through a competition.

“MRC is also credited with working on the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (London) expansion plan,so we know the project is in safe hands,” she says. Entries for the competition’s first round can be submitted on MRC’s website; the last date is January 13. While the first stage requires interested teams to send in an expression of interest (a note on how one will approach the given theme),the second round will have the five to seven shortlisted teams present concept strategies. An international jury,names for which are yet to be finalised,will then decide the winner of the competition. “The shortlist will be out in late January after which the winner will be selected by April next year. Work on the building is slated to begin in October after the monsoons,” says Mehta.

This project will give Byculla a facelift. “There was a time when Byculla was a major cultural hub. We are looking at restoring the area to its past cultural glory with this project. The setting up of the North Wing will go a long way in increasing the footfall at the museum,” she says. The aim is to engage the city,especially its children,by using the wing’s cultural and educational facilities.

As for the funding,“Fifty per cent of the money will come from the BMC,and the rest will be raised by the trustees. I have been rooting for this project for a while now and I am glad to see it take shape. Internationally,museums are major institutions and as a global player,Mumbai too needs its museums to serve as cultural hubs,” she says.


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