National Museum helps Punjab conserve heritage

In Amritsar yesterday to attend the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture (INTACH) session on the Conservation of Amritsar’s heritage, Mr Singh talked to The Tribune about Punjab’s priceless artifacts that needed urgent attention.

Comparing Amritsar to historical cities of Ujjain, Kashi and Benaras, Mr Singh said the National Museum recently trained 25 volunteers from Punjab in the art of reserving heritage objects.

He himself designed a conservation project for the rare textiles of this region, which also boasts of a rich artillery collection.

Presently handling the restoration of rare paintings in the Central Hall of Parliament in Delhi, Mr Singh also supervised two other significant projects.

These include the training of 30 Indian Air Force men in the preservation of rare regimental collections in India and the training of 50 Lamas in the preservation of 500 monasteries across Ladakh.

At hand now is the conservation of India’s first oil painter Raja Ravi Verma’s works, says Mr Singh, while also mentioning his concerns in Punjab.

‘Punjab has an unmatched collection of heritage objects like cannons, arms and ammunition. Then there are textiles and manuscripts currently in private possession across the country. People are not aware about how to conserve these collections, where to depict them and how to study the history behind them,’ said Mr Singh, pointing towards the neglect of Medals Gallery in Patiala.

Terming each of these medals collected by Maharaja Patiala as the ‘Kohinoors of Punjab’, Mr Singh said there was an urgent need to save them as there is to preserve unique architectural features in the old walled city of Amritsar.

Stressing the need to develop a museum at the local level, he said more and more museums were coming up all over India.

‘We now have Airplane and Botanical Museums. This trend explains why conservation strategies are becoming increasingly important these days. For our part, we train people in art conservation, as and when the demand arises,’ said Mr Singh whose suggestions regarding conservation of Punjab’s artifacts formed a valuable part of the INTACH seminar later.

As the seminar on ‘conserving city heritage’ concluded today, some important points were raised.

The t vital were identification of tourism potential in specific areas; use of battery operated and eco-friendly vehicles for access to inner lanes leading to the Golden Temple and special training of labour for the repair of old buildings in the city.

Today’s speakers were Prof Meenakshi, Lecturer in Architecture, GND varsity, who highlighted the aesthetics of Khalsa College, Amritsar; Mr Jeet Kumar Gupta, former Chief Town Planner, Chandigarh and Mr B.S. Sekhon, Lecturer in Planning, GND varsity who suggested ways of preserving city heritage.

Mr Gopal Johri, also from Planning Department, GND varsity, suggested how building bylaws could be changed to prevent further damage to structures in the walled city.

At another venue, puppetry and painting workshop was held for children today. Another highlight of the celebration was Odissi recital by Madhavi Mudgal and vocal recital by Dr Girija Devi.

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