Egmore museum set for an upgrade

majestic makeover: The bronze gallery at the Egmore Museum is set to be expanded at a cost of Rs. 30 lakh. —   | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

In the coming months, the Government Museum at Egmore, Chennai, will see a big expansion of its famed Bronze, Amaravati and Zoology galleries with a display of 150 to 300 additional pieces in each of them. The museum has one of the world’s richest collection of bronzes, many of which are extraordinary examples of the skill of the metal sculptors of the Chola period from 10th century CE to 12 century CE.

The museum is famous for its rich collection of the Buddhist sculptures from the remains of an ancient stupa at Amaravati, about 35 km from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. The stupa was built during the period of Satavahanas, who ruled the Deccan region from second century BCE to third century CE.

D. Jagannathan, Director of Museums, Tamil Nadu, said there was enough space in the existing Bronze gallery at the Egmore museum to display an additional 300 to 400 bronzes. These bronzes would be from the museum’s reserve collection. There was enough space in the existing building housing the Bronze gallery to display these extra bronzes and Rs.30 lakhs would be spent in displaying them. Of the bronzes now on display at the museum, the most notable ones are of those of Nataraja from Tiruvalangadu and Kankoduthavanitham, the Ardhanarisvara from Tiruvengadu, Umasahita, the Vaishnavite bronzes, the Buddha bronzes from Nagapattinam, the Jaina bronzes and so on.

Awaiting orders

School Education Minister K. Pandiarajan would soon issue the orders for the expansion of the Bronze, the Amaravati and the Zoology galleries, the Director of Museums said.

“We are going to expand the Amaravati gallery at a cost of Rs.20 lakhs,” Dr. Jagannathan further informed. About 150 to 200 additional Buddhist sculptural pieces from Amaravati, which are in the museum’s reserve collection, would be displayed. Those on display now include sculptures on the interpretation of the dream of Maya, the mother of Siddhartha, who became the Buddha, his Great Renunciation, his Great Enlightenment symbolised by the Bodhi tree, the Buddha’s First Sermon symbolised by the Dharma Chakra, his taming the mad elephant Nalagiri and its bowing at his feet, miracles performed by the Buddha and so on.

Glorious monument

In the assessment of the late C. Sivaramamurti, noted art critic, “The Amaravati stupa is a glorious monument of the Satavahana period.” The Buddhist sculptures from Amaravati are made of limestone/marble. There is a school of opinion that “the kernal of this stupa owes its origin to Emperor Asoka....” (regnal years circa 268 BCE to 232 BCE).

The Zoology gallery will undergo an expansion at a cost of Rs.30 lakhs for the display of “wet specimens”, Dr. Jagannathan said.

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Printable version | Jun 9, 2021 12:02:31 PM |

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