Shashi Tharoor, MP, has called upon the government for urgent measures to protect the paintings exhibited in the Sri Chithra Art Gallery here. In a press note issued after a visit to the art gallery, Mr. Tharoor said the Ravi Varma paintings in the gallery were an invaluable part of Kerala's heritage. He said they were exhibited without adequate protection. “Visitors to the gallery can easily touch the paintings. Some of the works have been damaged. It is fortunate that the paintings have escaped major vandalism. I have never seen paintings being treated in such a casual manner in any other country.”

A contrast

Mr. Tharoor said the paintings had to be preserved in air conditioned rooms. “They have to be kept in controlled conditions to prevent damage.”

He observed that the plight of the Ravi Varma paintings was in sharp contrast to the security given to the sword of Velu Thampi Dalawa kept in the Napier Museum, hardly 50 metres away.

Located on the museum premises, the Sri Chithra Art Gallery is home to 1,000 paintings including 43 by Raja Ravi Varma. The gallery was established in 1935 by the then ruler of Travancore Sri Chithira Tirunal Balarama Varma.

“It is a matter of concern that the paintings worth hundreds of crores of rupees in the global art market are carelessly stored in the old gallery building,” he said.