Started by Thondaiman rulers at Thirugokarnam, this is the second largest in Tamil Nadu.

The 103-year-old Government Museum in Pudukottai, an erstwhile princely State, has been given a facelift in connection with its centenary celebrations.

An additional modernised gallery, a new metal ware gallery and an auditorium are the latest additions at the museum, the second largest in State next to the Chennai museum.

Several ancient exhibits that were kept on display at Chennai museum have been brought and showcased at Pudukottai museum that has rich and varied collections of antique items depicting the history and culture of Pudukottai.

The newly-created modern gallery with tiled flooring contains exhibits of invertebrates, water birds, different types of fishes, butterflies, arthropods, and reptiles. The main building has been renovated and converted into a modern gallery with diorama cases for display , say museum authorities. On display inside the metal ware gallery are south Indian toys, ancient bronze idols, ornamental plates and trays and copper embossed plates. About 500 metal-related exhibits of the bygone era were brought from the Chennai museum to Pudukottai for display in the metal ware gallery, the authorities said.

A 200-seat auditorium has been built on the rear side of the museum to host various events and conduct inscription-related training for archaeology students. About Rs.80 lakh has been sanctioned by the State government for the works, says a museum official.

Started at Thirugokarnam in Pudukottai by the erstwhile Thondaiman rulers of the Pudukottai Samasthanam in 1910, the museum was handed over to the government after the merger of the samasthanam with the union in 1948.

A repository of prized antique items, the museum contains 18 galleries, including art and craft gallery, painting gallery, armoury gallery, anthropology, stone sculptures, and wood-carving galleries.

Paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, huge portraits of the Thondaiman rulers, and musical instruments used in the bygone era are the other prized items in the museum.

The objective of giving a facelift is to attract more visitors to the museum, say the museum authorities. A recent addition to the museum is a tall age-old granite idol of goddess Durga that was brought a few months ago to the museum from the coastal Kattumavadi village in the district.

The beautifully carved idol, which is nearly 7.5-foot tall, had developed cracks and was not used for puja by the villagers. It was brought to the museum to preserve the piece, said a museum staff. The idol has now been kept in front of the museum.