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Collect, for posterity

Miniature paintings, textiles, coins, hair ornaments, bronzes, wood work, European decorative art, prints, old post cards and a lot more — a total of 2,027 objects have been collected from various sources by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in the last five years since 2007. Two hundred of these objects will go on display at an exhibition titled Sanchayan, which opens this Saturday.

The exhibition has been organised to highlight the fact that the museum not only maintains its collections well, but also enthusiastically engages in a continuous process of acquiring artifacts or objects that have great value. “A collection is the core of a museum. No museum can exist without collecting art objects that are a reflection of its past and present society,” says Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director General, CSMVS.


The museum has purchased about 700 hair ornaments from Venna Shroff collection

The museum has an art purchase committee, which judges the value and price of artifacts before they are purchased from private collectors or licensed art dealers. Besides this, a large number of objects are donated by individuals and families on a regular basis. “Of the entire collection, about 40% has been gifted by citizens,” says Manisha Nene, curator and assistant director of the gallery. “A large collection of European decorative art has been gifted to the museum by Harikishon Udani.


Standing female figure from Austria donated by Indumati and Harikishon Udani

Dr Pratapaditya Pal donated about 700 old postcards, which is a very interesting collection from the early 20th century,” she adds. The collection includes prints of photographs by Emil Otto Hoppé, who came from London to create an epic photo-documentation of the Indian subcontinent. He has recorded the spirit and beauty of Shantiniketan, where Rabindranath Tagore invited him. He also captured the bustling city of Mumbai, through its streets and cityscapes.


Early 20th century Baluchar sari, especially made for Gyananandinidevi, wife of Satyendranath Tagore, the first ICS officer of India and older brother of Rabindranath Tagore

“It’s beautiful to look at Mumbai as it was back then. It gives us a chance to look at how the culture and costumes have changed over the years,” remarks Nene. “There are also early coins used in India and many miniature paintings from Rajasthan and Paithan in Maharashtra that will be part of the exhibition,” she adds.


Coloured engraving of the temple at Ellora, which has been gifted by Pauline Rohatgi

The exhibition, she hopes, will also encourage more people to donate objects to the museum. “New acquisitions help understand the continuing traditions and the present art along with that of the past. At the museum, the process of collecting has never stopped,” she reminds us.

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