The early 20th century five-foot ivory tusk that was carefully kept in storage with lakhs of artefacts for years,now occupies pride of place in a majestic hall at the National Museum. Shut since 2008,the gallery is one of the nine at the National Museum,Delhi,that was locked interminably. In the last one year though,four galleries have reopened and two more are in the pipeline. We are trying to speed up the process,several factors have contributed to the delay, says the director general of the museum,Dr Venu V.
The museums initial collection included gifts from governments and private collectors that culminated in an exhibition at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 1948. The museum was housed inside the Presidents home till 1960,but it has been asking for a larger area. While the plans have been approved,they have been on hold.
The Bronze gallery is due to open in December,followed by the Ethnic Art gallery. The pace of activity escalated after the inauguration of the newly refurbished Musical Instruments gallery in December 2010.
The last few decades have been rather listless. Lack of responsibility at different levels,perhaps,is one reason. At the highest level,the Ministry of Culture has had multiple heads. The museum itself has been assigned a series of temporary heads since AKVS Reddy relinquished the post of Director General in 2007.
loopholes & promises
The operations of the museum have been under scrutiny. A report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Culture in May 2012 pointed out that no physical verification of objects had been done since 2003. Venu admits to the magnitude of problems but hopes that the coming years will be more promising.