Cultural Affairs Secretary calls meeting to discuss issue

Little progress has been made on the renovation work on the Sri Chitra Art Gallery inside the zoo premises despite the work being launched three years back.

Discarded bits of terracotta tiles lie piled up near the entrance, alongside stacks of wood and granite yet to be used for construction.

The heritage building, to begin with, has very little space to display all the rare pieces of art the gallery has in its possession and yet one large portion of its precious space has been cordoned off for years for restoration work that is carried out intermittently.

The Department of Cultural Affairs, under which both the Museums and Archaeology Department function, will be convening a meeting sometime next week to assess the situation that has received widespread criticism from both artistes and the public who can see in plain view, how dismal the pace of renovation is.

In fact, one concerned city resident had sent a strongly-worded letter to the Cultural Affairs department, which was forwarded to the Zoo Director, calling for another building altogether that is bolstered with the finest equipment to preserve original pieces of art.

Secretary of the Cultural Affairs Department Rani George told The Hindu that she understood the need to hasten the renovation work sanctioned years ago.

“I will be calling a meeting of officials of both the departments to discuss the renovation work,” she said.

Superintendent P.S. Manjula Devi said that the Archaeology Department is to do the renovation work in phases – the block near the entrance first. This is where they will exhibit all of Raja Ravi Varma’s original artwork.

An office section towards the back is only halfway done, meaning officials have had to occupy one of the display rooms.

Beautiful Tanjore and Mughal paintings are kept here, plus a glass enclosure inside which there is the Persian translation of the Mahabharat by Faizi (under Emperor Akbar’s direction).

Being the office, no visitors are allowed in. Ms. Devi said that she is prioritising the renovation of the store-rooms, where a number of original pieces are stacked together, gathering dust.