New initiatives: guides at Egmore museum and freedom fighters gallery at Fort museum soon

They are housed in historic buildings that display exhibits dating back to several centuries but the Fort Museum and Government Museum, Egmore, continue to be relevant with changing times.

On the occasion of International Museum Day on Friday, the museums got much-deserved attention from the common man and the government, alike. Three gallery guides have been appointed at the Egmore museum while the Fort Museum will soon get a gallery dedicated to Indian freedom fighters.

K. Moortheeswari, Deputy Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Museum Branch, Southern Region, said they wished to set up more museums across the southern states since they had a vast reserve of antiquities. “Currently we have 8 museums across the four southern states and are looking at having museums at sculpture sheds such as the one in Vellore and Trichy,” she said. Officials are studying the possibility of setting up at least 4 museums in Tamil Nadu, she said.

“Of the 3,500 antiquities in the possession of the museum, almost 2,500 are in the reserve collection,” she said. To bring these exhibits to the public, the museum is planning to begin a monthly exhibition where they will display an antiquity from their reserve collection.

She said that work was in progress to set up a freedom fighters gallery on the second floor of Fort Museum, with focus on Indian freedom fighters. The period museum currently has exhibits that chronicle the British Era. The main draw, she said, would be a silk Indian National Flag hoisted at Fort. St. George on August 15, 1947. “The flag has become brittle over the years and only bits of it can be displayed,” she said.

Native sepoy uniforms, Indian swords, coins minted during Tipu Sultan's era, and portraits from their reserve collection are some of the other artefacts that will be on display. The museum, she said, also welcomed contributions in the form of photographs, letters, and personal records from individuals and families connected with the freedom struggle. The name of the donor would be mentioned under the exhibit, she said. The gallery is expected to be opened to the public on August 15.

At the Egmore museum, S.S. Jawahar, Principal Secretary and Commissioner of Museums, announced that the new gallery guides would help visitors understand the history of the artefacts displayed. V.K. Jeyakodi, Principal Secretary to Government, Tourism and Culture Department, who inaugurated the exhibition on ‘Select Coinage of Tamil Nadu' at the museum, said modernisation of the galleries, including audio guides for all galleries was on the cards. The virtual museum, too, would be launched soon, he said.

While the Egmore Museum has organised an exhibition of coins, where close to 51 coins from the Sangam Era to the British Era will be on display till May 24, the Fort Museum has organised a photo exhibition on “The world Museums - A glance,” with information on close to 400 museums from around the world. This will be on display till the end of the month. The flexes which run across the walls of the first floor of this heritage structure have photographs and details of exhibits in museums such as the National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, National Museum of Afghanistan and Helms Museum among many others. It was inaugurated by T.S. Sridhar, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Higher Education.

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Culture & HeritageMay 14, 2012

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