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Sunday, July 22, 2018

A touch of modernity for only Parsi museum

In a three-phase plan,over five years,the museum will be restored to more than its former glory.

Written by Kevin Lobo | Mumbai | Published: January 1, 2014 12:18:36 am

Tucked away in Kemps Corner at the Khareghat Colony lies Framji Dadabhoy Alpaiwalla Museum,the city’s only community museum dedicated to Parsi artefacts. But over the years,as with most heritage structures in the city,the building has come under disrepair. But 2014 brings great news with it. In a three-phase plan,over five years,the museum will be restored to more than its former glory.

“The organisers of the 10th World Zoroastrian Congress wanted to leave a lasting legacy on the city,so I asked them to take up the issue of restoring the Alpaiwalla Museum. The structure is fabulous and didn’t need much work,but the roof was leaking and the toilets were not usable. That has been changed. Also the museum was last restored 30 years ago,so the display techniques are all old. We want to change it according to current world standards,” says Pheroza Godrej,an art conservationist and honorary consultant to the museum. The restoration project is being financed by the Mumbai Parsi Punchayet. The Parsi diaspora has also come forward to donate for its renovation.

The museum will be inaugurated today with a small ceremony,although no artefacts will be displayed. Godrej says they’d like to change shows every three to four months. One of the first shows will have a reproduction of the western staircase from the Apadana in Persepolis in a 12-foot-long glass fabrication. The second is a replica of the sanctum sanctorum of an agiary.

Both the pieces were made,thanks to the sponsorship of philanthropist Dr Cyrus Poonawala and was shown at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the UK last year.

The first phase is to make sure the structure of the building is fine and to recruit a team to manage the museum’s daily functioning. The second phase has two parts — one where the showcases and lighting will be changed and the second where the artefacts will be restored.

“We have limited budgets and can’t afford to centrally air-condition the entire museum. But in order to keep the artefacts safe,we need to temperature-control each showcase,which will be our primary focus. In conjunction with developing the showcases,we will also restore the artefacts with the help of outside agencies. For example,we could get the Tapi Foundation to restore the textiles.”

The third phase is to make the museum disable-friendly with the help of Mithu Alur and her foundation ADAPT.

The formal reopening of the museum will be held when the artefacts arrive from the SOAS. There are over 1,500 artifacts at the museum. As exhibits under each sections — porcelain,coins,stamps — are restored,shows will be held at the Alpaiwalla Museum.

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