Story of a Genesis

Rare archival photographs map the birth of one of the oldest cultural institutes in the Capital, the National Museum.

By: Entertainment Feature Service | Updated: May 18, 2014 3:14:07 am
The Maurya Sunga atvahana gallery inside National Museum in the ’50s. The Maurya Sunga atvahana gallery inside National Museum in the ’50s.

It can be a rare experience to see the marble-flourished rotunda of National Museum, usually adorned with India’s cultural history, invite visitors to see another history in the making —  its own. With 57 black-and-white archival photographs on display, National Museum opened “Down Memory Lane” — a month-long exhibition on its foundation day (May 12) displaying an array of historic visuals from 1945 to 1970 — that chronologically traces the making of National Museum.

Acquired from government institutions and private donors, the exhibition, apart from giving a peak into what the museum looked like in its initial decades, also showcases people involved in the establishment of the institute, from architects and engineers to national leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr S Radhakrishnan. “It throws light on many of its inception-related and growth stories,” said Dr Venu V, Director-General, National Museum.

The history of National Museum is one to be told and retold. While the idea of building the institute was proposed in 1946 by the Gwyer Committee, a large-scale exhibition of Indian arts and crafts in London in 1947-48 (which was later displayed at Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 15, 1949) preceded the earmarking of the independent National Museum building. Designed by architect Ganesh Bikaji Deolalikar, the Museum’s foundation stone was laid by Nehru on May 12, 1955. The museum was finally inaugurated by the then Vice President S Radhakrishnan on December 18, 1960.

The exhibition is on till June 12 at National Museum, Barakhamba Road. Contact: 9810199995

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