Tamil Nadu

‘Red Fort’ at Madras Medical College to reopen as museum

To the east of Madras Medical College (MMC) stands a building referred to as ‘Red Fort’. The 121-year-old heritage building, which is currently being restored to its old glory, will soon turn into a museum.

Constructed in 1897, the red brick structure has been classified as a Grade I heritage building by the Justice E. Padmanabhan Committee on heritage structures. The Indo-Saracenic style building housed the Department of Anatomy for several decades.

“The building is a structure of grandeur. The idea is to renovate and preserve the heritage structure, and create a museum for students of schools and colleges. We have a rare collection of anatomical specimens, and want to convert a portion into a museum. We are reaching out to alumni to chip in to beautify the space outside the building,” said R. Jayanthi, dean of MMC and Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital.

In 2013, the Department of Anatomy partially moved into the new MMC campus on the erstwhile central prison premises. In December 2017, the PWD began restoration work.

“The State government sanctioned ₹1.97 crore to restore the Anatomy Block to its old glory. Once the work is over, we intend to create a museum here. On the ground floor, we will showcase the history of MMC, while the first floor will have specimens for comparative anatomy,” said Sudha Seshayyan, Director, Anatomy, and Vice-Principal, MMC.

While specimens required for teaching anatomy to MBBS students were moved to the new campus, huge animal skeletons remained at the ‘Red Fort’.

“We are collecting materials that will help in tracing the history of MMC and have listed down nine to 10 broad areas. This includes exhibits on the life and contribution of renowned alumni. We are going to display old equipment used in the college,” she said. Copies of books written for MMC students during the British Raj will also be displayed.

Among the building’s distinctive features are sliding panels in the ceiling to adjust for lighting and a 4.5 metre high spiral iron staircase.A PWD official said a major portion of the restoration work is complete. “There were at least 30 to 40 cracks on the terrace, primarily due to ageing. We used a traditional mixture consisting of lime mortar, filter sand, ‘kadukkai’ and palm jaggery. This was allowed to soak for 15 days. The lime powder was brought from Virudhunagar for better consistency,” he explained.

The cracks were repaired with this mixture and covered with two layers of bricks. “Missing stones on the terrace have been replaced with wire-cut bricks. The tiles on sheds that were damaged during Cyclone Vardah have been repaired,” he added.

Walls on which the plastering had given way have received fresh lime plastering. Stones were given a chemical wash and damages to the portico repaired. “The painting work has been completed and electrical work is being taken up. We will complete the work in two months,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 11, 2021 11:28:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/red-fort-at-madras-medical-college-to-reopen-as-museum/article24567367.ece

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