Conservation of the Kerala Legislative Assembly Golden Jubilee Museum, a protected monument under the Archaeology Department, is nearing completion.
The museum, on the Legislative Assembly campus at Palayam, is located in a beautiful red building in western style that dates back to 1868. It was the headquarters of the Thiruvithamkoor Nair Pattalam or the Nair Brigade of erstwhile Travancore.
The stately building then became a military hospital, headquarters of the Mounted Police, and later the office of the City Police Commissioner. It housed some offices after the new Assembly building came up, say Archaeology Department officials. The building was then converted into the Assembly museum that was inaugurated by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in 2006.
The 41 cents of land on which the museum stands is bordered by the official home of the Speaker of the Assembly, and the residence of the Deputy Speaker and the Legislative Secretary.
Though declared a protected monument in 1997, the building was maintained by the Public Works Department in association with the Assembly Secretariat. Then, during the previous Left Democratic Front government’s tenure, Assembly Secretary V.K. Babu Prakash suggested that the bulding’s comprehensive conservation be taken up, since structural repairs were straying from conservation principles and ethics.
Conservation work was taken up in two phases. In the first phase, conservation of the entrance to the building and the bell tower was completed in 2019. A chamber that was said to house explosives and had been sealed was also restored, and a spiral staircase and a platform added to provide access to the room that contained the opening to the chamber.
Some portions of the main building that housed the extension rooms had asbestos roof after the roof tiles broke. These were replaced with roof tiles as part of the conservation work. A boundary wall at the building’s rear too was built.
In the second phase that began post-COVID, focus was on the roof of the main structure that houses the museum as rain water tended to percolate down, damaging the ceiling. As the roof tiles were of different patterns and styles (some were fish-scale tiles, while others were Mangalore pattern tiles), these were removed and put back again in order.
Some of the reapers and rafters were damaged. Of these, some were repaired and treated with cashewnut shell oil and put back, while others were replaced. The terracota floor was polished, and given a fresh coating.
Regular maintenance of the building that had been carried out earlier made the work of the Archaeology Department easier, say officials.
A garden too will come up at the rear where visitors to the museum can relax after their visit.