Dressing up time at National Museum

NEW DELHI, FEB. 15. The National Museum here is aiming for a new look. Adding to its already extensive display, the Museum is renovating four exhibition halls -- one devoted to an all-new Numismatics Gallery, another to a Painting Gallery, while two others, the Central Asian antiquities and the Manuscripts Gallery, would be expanded to include more exhibits.

With the much talked about Picasso show having just moved on to Mumbai, the three halls housing the masterpieces have been vacated and are being spruced up to host the revamped Central Asian exhibition. ``We have over 12,000 articles of Central Asian antiquities in our reserve collection which we will now exhibit. These were donated to the Museum by Sir Aurel Stein,'' says the Museum's Head of Office and Keeper, Nasim Akhtar. Stein, who came to India in 1887, had conducted several expeditions to Central Asia, North-West India and Bihar and brought to light treasures of the great civilisation.

Also coming up fast is the Numismatics Gallery which will offer a glimpse of different civilisations through coins. The exhibits would include coins from different periods of history such as ``punch-mark'' from 3rd Century B.C. and coins from the Mauryan period. It would also showcase various techniques of coin-making.

Also under renovation is the Paintings Gallery showcasing paintings from different periods in history including the Moghul and Rajput periods. Paintings from Orissa too would form part of this. The Manuscripts Gallery is being expanded to showcase about 400 manuscripts compared to nearly 200 now.

``There are about 2 lakh antiquities in our reserve collection. We regularly keep revising our exhibits so that new items are always on display. But we wanted to display more items permanently which is the reason for the ongoing renovation,'' says Mr. Akhtar.

The authorities have set the middle of the year as the deadline for opening the four new exhibition halls.

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