Patna Museum closed for visitors for 3 months for old building's revamp
The historic Patna Museum, home to a collection of rich artefacts, rare paintings and 200 million years old fossilised tree trunk, has been closed for visitors for three months starting June 1, to undertake a revamp of its 95-year-old building. An official order was on Thursday hung at the main entrance gate of the celebrated British-era landmark in the Bihar capital which is endowed with Indo-Saracenic architecture and fondly referred to as 'Jadu Ghar' by locals.
The order reads that the museum will be closed for visitors from June 1 to August 31 to undertake work for ''waterproofing of the old building'' and ''strengthening of RB roof''. Many visitors were seen returning from the main gate after security guards told them about the closure. ''I wanted to see the Patna Museum but I was not aware that it has been closed from today. It is one of the richest museums in India, and I will miss visiting it till August end,'' said a youth who returned home after reading the notice board. A project on redevelopment and extension of the museum building, located on the old Patna Gaya Road, is currently underway, whose foundation stone was laid by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in August 2020.
''Civil work on construction of new wings around the old museum is almost complete. Visual galleries will now come up gradually in them. The work on revamping of the heritage building will now commence, and therefore from June 1, the Patna Museum will be closed to visitors,'' a top official in the Bihar government's Art, Culture and Youth Department earlier said.
Besides, refurbishment of the heritage building, being done as part of a redevelopment project, its old galleries will be redesigned, rearranged and curated in a new way to showcase the artefacts and other historic items in a better manner, he said.
One of the most striking and recognisable buildings of the capital city, the Patna Museum building was completed in 1928 with two identical ornate gateways -- the 'In Gate' and the 'Out Gate'.
It was officially opened on March 7, 1929 by the then Governor of Bihar and Orissa Sir Hugh Lansdowne Stephenson.
The museum will be closed for a ''period of three months'', the senior official said.
''The exhibits and artefacts currently on display in the old building of the museum, will be packed and moved into storage in a section of the newly-constructed wing on its premises. Besides, revamping of the old building, its galleries would also be redesigned and rearranged for better display for visitors,'' he said.
Patna Museum is a veritable treasure trove, and one of its most famous occupants till a few years ago was the Didarganj Yakshi or the Chauri-bearer, as she is also referred to as.
It remained one of the star attractions of the Patna Museum until the sculpture was moved, along with a large number of antique items, to Bihar Museum on Bailey Road. Patna Museum is also home to a fossilised tree trunk displayed in a corner of the ground floor of the old building. It is a 200 million years old ''silicified tree trunk, and 58-ft long, which was found near Asansol (in West Bengal) in 1927 and presented by the Eastern Railway'', according to a wooden information panel mounted near the fossilised relic.
The majestic old building of the museum was designed by Rai Bahadur Bishun Swarup, and its architectural elements include Rajput styles such as 'jharokhas', 'chhatris', ornate domes and a courtyard with an old fountain at its focal point.
The Patna Museum was established in April 1917, five years after Bihar and Orissa was carved out as a separate province from Bengal in 1912.
The museum began functioning in April 1917 out of a section in the northern wing of the Patna High Court building, before moving to the new building in early 1929. One of the two heritage gates -- the 'Out Gate' -- of the iconic 95-year-old building of the Patna Museum suffered damage during the course of the ongoing redevelopment project work in its historic campus.
Many heritage lovers in the city and elsewhere are upset over the damage and appealed to the authorities to ensure its preservation and restoration.
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