Until June 2001 when the foundation stone for NGMA was laid, the Manikyavelu Mansion on Palace Road was a verdant 3.5-acre campus with a stunning but crumbling colonial-style mansion.
“It is to the credit of Ministers, activists and officials, including Ananth Kumar, Maneka Gandhi, K.N. Srivastava and Chiranjeev Singh, that the building was restored for housing the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), which is celebrating its 6th anniversary on February 18,” says architect Naresh Narasimhan who redesigned Manikyavelu Mansion. “Today, the NGMA stands as the premier cultural institution of Bengaluru and the gallery demonstrates how a heritage structure can be adaptively reused for public spaces that throb with international art and culture exhibitions.”
Mr. Narasimhan, who has also had a hand in the restoration of Metropole in Mysuru and the Maharaja’s Hotel in Brindavan Gardens, is of the view that city planners should see an ‘opportunity’ to conserve and restore heritage spaces rather than treat them as a ‘burden’.
“It was an interesting experience to take up the over 90-year-old Manikyavelu Mansion, once the property of the Mysuru royal family,” he says. It later came to be owned by Raja Manikyavelu Mudaliar, a mine owner. It was taken over by the State government in the late sixties and handed over to the Ministry of Culture for constructing an art museum. NGMA was formally inaugurated in 2009.
The historic heritage mansion, transformed from a residence into a museum gallery at a cost of Rs. 8 crore, has been further supplemented by a Gallery Block. A 1,260-square metre extension has been added to the 1,500-square metre of the mansion, making it the best example of a surviving bungalow.
“The new design blends with spaces required for a modern museum, and coexists with the ambience of a traditional mansion,” says Mr. Narasimhan, adding that the first floor has the capacity to hold sculptures weighing up to five tonnes.
The NGMA includes a smartened up auditorium, open-air theatre, reference library, offices and art storage area, a cafeteria, and a museum shop-cum-facilitations block.
Minimalist design Architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi of INTACH says the new NGMA building fits perfectly with the endearing old mansion in a balanced way. “With the central open space swaying with trees amidst the stone seating and water bodies, the minimalist design brings in a subdued non-dominant character required for public spaces. The external façade is skilfully retained to bring in a sense of déjà vu, which is all about adaptive re-use in conservation architecture,” he says.
Activities for art lovers NGMA is conducting activities for art lovers on its premises on February 18 from 10.30 a.m. to 5p.m. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Other restored beauties RBANM's school building in Ulsoor
Fab India building in Koramangala that retains original character of architect Charles Correa’s house
Basava Ambara in Basavanagudi that maintains the splendour of the original bungalow