The State government on Saturday constituted an expert committee to preserve and restore the National Art Gallery in the museum complex at Egmore.

The committee will play a key role in the restoration of the heritage building. Almost a decade after cracks appeared in the structure, the National Art Gallery has received Rs. 11 crore for restoration.

In a statement in the Assembly in May, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had announced the restoration of the building. Of the six buildings on the museum campus, three are more than 100 years old.

The National Art Gallery building housed traditional Thanjavur, Rajasthan, Deccan and miniature paintings and sandalwood carvings. It was closed in 2002 after one side of the building caved in. The paintings are now displayed in the adjacent Contemporary Art gallery.

Constructed in 1906, and known as the Victoria Memorial Hall, the structure used to house Victoria Technical Institute. It was renamed National Art Gallery in 1951.

The restoration committee will oversee preparation of estimates for restoration, based on a report submitted by experts from the public works department (civil), Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, and IIT-Madras.

The pink sandstone building, Madras plaster walls, stucco art and a doorway modelled on the lines of Fatehpur Sikri, were designed by Erskine Irwin and built by Namberumal Chetty.

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