Visitors to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) might have marvelled at its exhibits that offer a glimpse into the life across eras and centuries.
The museum is also of the belief that the ever-growing list of these exhibits, that serve as cultural memory banks need to be updated constantly. Hence, they continue to acquire new pieces every year, which they believe would be relevant and significant in the future.
These objects are acquired through purchase, gift, bequest, loan and exchange. Through these methods, 900 were acquired this year, of which 98% were gifted.
“These objects have been lying in personal collections of families for several years and hence, we think it is necessary for people to view them. Also, it helps us to acknowledge our donors and spread the word about museum’s activities,” says Manisha Nene, Assistant Director (Galleries), CSMVS. Sanchayan, the ongoing exhibition of the recently acquired pieces has been curated by Nene and Vandana Prapanna. This is the second annual art exhibition of the museum’s recent acquisitions and most of the exhibits include bronze sculptures gifted by Dr Ernst Misha Jucker (Ex-President of Novartis, Switzerland) and Angela Jucker. “He had collected these sculptures from different parts of India and had wanted them to be come back to India at a museum,” says Prapanna. Other exhibits include 12 miniature paintings from Mewar School, which were part of the manuscript of Bihari Sat Sai (a famous work by poet Bihari Lal Chaube), which were purchased by the museum, and some textile exhibits, too. “These pieces are heirlooms and convincing the families to part with them is a difficult,” says Nene.
Piece of art
“A collection is a very gradual process and the museum has never stopped acquiring. And with the help of these exhibitions, newer people have approached us,” explains Nene. The museum also commissions artworks from award-winning master craftsmen, who practise rare traditional arts, to preserve them for the future. One such exhibit is a Mata ni Pachedi painting or a painted shrine. The pieces go through a selection process to estimate their value for the future. Giving us the details of a child's cape, Nene explains “This garment is called a Kunchi and is worn by children during naming ceremonies. We never know if this practise will continue in future. Hence, they serve as a record of our social lives and as links between different eras.”
India for the future
Depending on their type, newer acquisitions are evaluated by curators from different departments at the museum, including the art and miniature section among others. These objects are checked for different aspects such as scope of the collection they would be a part of, the physical condition and the theme of the collection. In case of purchases, the museum has an Art Purchase Committee that consists of experts from different fields who go through several criteria that the object is supposed to fulfill, including legal and monetary requirements.