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Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery set to get a facelift

By Our Staff Correspondent

Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery in Mysore showcasing paintings, which will soon get a facelift, and (right) the ancient musical instruments in the gallery.

Mysore March 19. Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery here is set to get a facelift, and will be embellished with rare paintings with the completion of work on a new hall in a couple of months.

The massive hall coming up within the gallery complex is the first major construction work approved by the authorities since the Jaganmohan Palace, in which the art gallery is housed, was completed in 1861.

The new hall does not compromise with the aesthetic integrity of the heritage building and blends with its architectural beauty. When completed, it will be the biggest of the 10 main halls in the gallery, according to M.G.Narasimha, Superintendent of Sri Jayachamajendra Art Gallery.

The hall is 100 ft. x 30 ft. and the art gallery will get additional space of nearly 3,000 sq. ft. for exhibition of artefacts.

Mr. Narasimha told The Hindu that the gallery had one of the largest collections of paintings and artefacts all of which could not be exhibited due to paucity of space. However, the new hall would help showcase rare paintings and other art works which were in the possession of the royal family.

The collection is reckoned to be among the largest in India. There are more than 2,000 rare paintings representing various schools of art, including the Mughal School, Company School, Shantiniketana School, and the original works of the Russian artist, Svetoslav Roerich.

Mr. Narasimha said the gallery had 16 original paintings by Raja Ravi Verma and they would be shifted to the new hall. The authorities had planned to exhibit the paintings of the Shantiniketan School of Art of West Bengal.

The effort underway is said to be the first of its kind in terms of magnitude and scale in recent years. The museum underwent a radical change in 1946 when paintings representing different schools of art were exhibited along with ivory and sandalwood carvings. The musical instruments of ancient and medieval India were added later as were the art works belonging to the period of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.

Meanwhile, the Regional Conservation Laboratory (RCL) has taken up the restoration and conservation work of Raja Ravi Verma's paintings most of which are over 100 years old. The RCL technical personnel decided to carry out the conservation work inside the art gallery and at the spot where the paintings are on display as most of the works could not be moved out, according to Mr. Narasimha.

The conservation work will be a long-drawn process and the RCL is expected to take up restoration of the murals after completing the work on the paintings by Ravi Verma. The facelift to Jaganmohan Palace and Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery was long overdue given its importance as a museum showcasing the cultural heritage, and also due to its popularity among the tourists. The structure itself is steeped in history and is recognised as a heritage building.

The Jaganmohan Palace was completed in 1861 and was among the first building of modern Mysore recognised for its grandeur. It was constructed during the time of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar and served as a durbar hall for some time. When the old palace was destroyed in a fire, the royal family lived here till the Amba Vilas Palace was completed in 1899.

However, it was converted into an art gallery in 1915 by Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, and has been exhibiting the priceless art works since then. Among the unique works are paintings on rice grains which have to be viewed through a magnifier. In addition, there are rare musical giant clocks with intricate carvings. The emergence of the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery as a prestigious museum was also facilitated by the efforts of artists such as K.Venkatappa, James Cousin, among others.

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