Even to a layman, the multi-cultural influences of the Napier Museum building are apparent, with one of the stand-out elements being the glass windows that run along the structure.
The next time you enter the Napier Museum, look up.
As valuable as the relics exhibited here is the structure of the museum itself. It takes one glance skywards to appreciate the intricacy of work carried out in the seven years of construction completed in 1880.
Even to a layman, the multi-cultural influences of the museum building are apparent, with one of the stand-out elements being the glass windows that run along the structure.
They have not been touched since they were initially installed nearly 135 years ago and some of them are in dire need of restoration. Currently, the conservation work here is focusing solely on the state of the exhibits. Once this phase is done, officials and conservationists will turn their attention to parts of the building that need to be polished to retain their original worth.
This is exactly what one of the leading experts in the field of historical stained glass window restoration plans to do. Artist Prabhakaran Kanichar has extensive experience working abroad and his expertise was roped in by the Kerala Museums to promote stained glass art in the State and to restore existing pieces.
He is presently preoccupied with his own project of establishing a Glass Art Museum in Kochi, which will be completed in a few months.
He came to see the famed Napier Museum three years ago when it was shut down for the first-ever large-scale conservation project for around nine months. “I noticed that some of the workers were brushing the windows with oil. I spoke to the museum authorities and that was thankfully stopped,” he says. Mr. Kanichar then approached them with his own proposal of how the damaged panes can be put back together in the original way so as to not taint the structure with fakes.
He described the windows as ‘leaded stained glass’, said to be far more resilient and long lasting. Machine-made glass will not be used, he stresses, adding that it is hand-made glass that bears antique value. He has a collection of antique glass remaining from work he carried out at a palace in Muscat – which Mr. Kanichar plans to use for this work. While he has done plenty of glass paintings, it is restoration work of historical artefacts that is always the most challenging, he says.