Prized paintings feel the heat

It features works of M.F. Husain, Bhupen Khakhar, Ghluam Sheikh, Jamini Roy, Satish Gujral, Suza, among others. In all, it has 1,300 works, stacked away in a storeroom, which needs proper air-conditioning. The urgency is apparent from the cost of works, estimated at Rs 30 crore. t of these were acquired at incredible low prices by B.N. Goswamy, who built the collection bit by bit. He bought a Khakhar work for Rs 500. Its current value is over Rs 25 lakh.

Concerned about the collection, Goswamy said: “This museum is a major national resource. Its value is infinitely greater than the attention it has received. We need money to correct its structure, air-conditioning the store and sun proof glass panes. Some refurbishing has been done but more is desired to save this collection.”

For PU, sparing a handsome budget is tough, although it has in the past sanctioned lakhs for roof repair and anti-termite treatment.

Rajinder Bhandari, head, fine art department and museum, PU, has now asked for funds to air-conditioning of five galleries and fix permanent lights in three. At present, the department gets Rs 60,000 for annual purchase and maintenance. It has asked for Rs 30 lakh.

Admitting to heat traps spoiling some works, Bhandari said: “A Jivan Adalja work is under repair. Its red surface had faded. Some wood sculptures are also affected but we are repairing them. Our works are indeed precious. When we loaned a Bhupen Khakhar work recently, its insurance amount was Rs 10 lakh. You can imagine the actual cost. For summers, we have removed all precious paintings from the galleries and mounted prints which are more enduring.”

With PU facing a fund crunch (Punjab owes Rs 20 crore to it), the onus of protecting the museum lies on the UT Administration, which can include it in its much-hyped tourism circuit.

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