Behind the scenes at a guided tour at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Updated: Apr 25, 2019, 14:08 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

Visitors will gain an understanding of conservation and restoration at a guided tour in a city museum this week

Conserving the collection is an ongoing exhibition at the CSMVS
Conserving the collection is an ongoing exhibition at the CSMVS

Imagine piecing together an 800-year-old sculpture that has been broken into 11 pieces. Conservator Madniya Mozawala certainly can. Harihara, a sculpture from the late Chalukyan period, stands as a witness to your imagination at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. And it isn't too late to go catch a glimpse of it.

Part of an exhibition titled Conserving the Collection, it's on display till May 15. This exhibition showcases objects that have been treated under the ConservArte: Citi-CSMVS Art Conservation Project, explaining the practice of art conservation and restoration. But this Wednesday, Mozawala and her colleague Nivedita Dhage will let visitors in on their process of being art doctors in a way through a guided tour — sharing stories of how such objects of historical importance are given a new life.

Madniya Mozawala works on the consolidation of a late 19th century oil painting on canvas titled Phryne in Eleusis by Emanuel Oberhauser
Madniya Mozawala works on the consolidation of a late 19th century oil painting on canvas titled Phryne in Eleusis by Emanuel Oberhauser

The term conservation has been rarely viewed as a process, rather than the final product. The walkthrough will unpack terms that seem alien to the most of us; such as the fibreglass dowels, polyester and synthetic resins crucial to the restoration of the Harihara. "We conserve about 1,000 objects annually but we have 40 on display with mediums ranging from textile and paper to stone and wood," Mozawala says.

Technical analytical equipment will also be on view. And after the tour, people can enter the laboratory within the museum to see how art objects are cleansed through a laser. They will also be able to check out the USB microscope. Talking about interesting objects in the collection apart from the Harihara, Mozawala says, "There's an oil painting called Phryne in Eleusis by Emanuel Oberhauser which was shattered. We also have a cabinet box with wood veneer and ivory inlay where tool marks are visible. On the other hand, we've got an Okimono [a Japanese decorative sculpture] that has been cleansed with only an art laser."

Nivedita Dhage with the cabinet box with wood veneer and ivory inlay
Nivedita Dhage with the cabinet box with wood veneer and ivory inlay

So, does this only interest the art aficionado? Mozawala begs to differ. "For those who are interested in the subject, this gives you more wholesome knowledge on restoration. But even for others who don't come from an art background, there's a great deal of utility. You learn how to protect your daily materials like the copper bartan, ceramic plates or wooden objects." A separate guided tour in Marathi will be conducted later in the afternoon.

The Harihara sculpture before and after restoration
The Harihara sculpture before and after restoration

On April 24, 11 am to 1 pm
At Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort.
Email artconservation@csmvs.org (to register)
Cost Museum entry charges apply

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