The second phase of renovation work at the Gandhi Memorial Museum here has begun. In the first phase, facelift was given to the prayer and meeting halls and the ‘asthi peetam’ of Mahatma Gandhi.
“In the second phase of renovation the main gallery and government museum building will be spruced up,” M. Mariappan, secretary of the museum, told The Hindu. The renovation works include installation of a lift in the erstwhile summer palace of Rani Mangammal where the main gallery is located. According to Mr. Mariappan, the lift will facilitate mobility of differently abled and old visitors to the main gallery, located on the first floor of the historic building. “We initially wanted to provide centralised air-conditioning in the main gallery. But the proposal was dropped as we felt that it will not go well with the Gandhian ethos,” Mr. Mariappan said.
The first phase of renovation got over in December and the second phase has started with the repairing of the compound wall. As part of the renovation works, the Government Museum building inside the Gandhi Museum premises will also get a new look.
The Government Museum is located in a 3,500-square feet building. But as much as 1,600 square feet of the building is dysfunctional for nearly 15 years. “The building has come dilapidated and the ceiling has started falling off the reason why we locked it up. It was not renovated owing to lack of funds. Now the Gandhi Museum authorities have allocated Rs. 21 lakh to repair the ceiling,” said A. Periyasamy, curator of Government Museum. With the renewal of the building, seminars, lectures and special exhibitions could be organised there, he added.
“Soon we will construct a commercial complex that will be rented out to promote khadi and village industry products. Products of Gandhigram, such as Ayurveda and Siddha medicines, Sarvodaya Sangam’s products, books and souvenirs of Mahatma Gandhi will be sold,” Mr. Mariappan said.
The complex is also likely to house a vegetarian restaurant. “Organic food and snacks made of organically produced grains will be sold there,” he said.
“The amphitheatre that accommodates 40,000 people will be covered up and there will be better seating, stage and parking facilities. The main gallery will have focus lights, new electrical fittings and more art works. For carrying out these works in the main gallery, the museum may remain closed for one or two weeks,” Mr. Mariappan added.
The State government and the Union Ministry of Culture have allocated Rs. 2.5 crore each for the renovation works at the museum sprawling across 13 acres. This is the first major renovation work to be carried out in the museum since it was established in 1969.