CHENNAI: A pet peeve of any heritage enthusiast in India is the less-than-ideal efforts that go into the conservation of the country’s priceless artefacts languishing in museums dotted across the country. Aiming to set things straight is this weekend's workshop.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL), the Netherlands, are joining hands with Dakshina Chitra Heritage Museum and Krea University to present a two-day workshop on Preventive Conservation and the Care of Cultural Collections. The workshop will be held on Friday at DakshinaChitra Heritage Museum and on Saturday at Krea University.
Vinod Daniel, chairperson, AusHeritage, a network of organisations in Australia dealing with cultural heritage, is one of the chief facilitators of the two-day workshop. With several decades of experience as a museum professional, Vinod has previously worked with the Getty Museum in the USA and for the past few years has been actively involved with Indian museums in trying to generate awareness regarding conservation.
“We’ve worked with museum staff in Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, where we’ve arranged for them to take up specialised training in conservation practices at institutes like SRAL. We’ve done five programmes so far, and this is our first in Tamil Nadu,” he added.
Participants will be tutored by experts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and SRAL in aspects of cultural preservation as agents of deterioration, risk management, monitoring, pest management, storage and exhibition practices, art handling and packing, the influence of light and radiation on art objects, etc. A practical session is also included with guidance from the experts.
For a country like India, with its hot climate a constant threat to its priceless artefacts, the number of conservators is rather low, Vinod noted. “Given the number of museums we have — not just the big ones in Delhi and Mumbai but also smaller ones in places like Thanjavur — India would need at least 10,000 conservators with basic training in collection management and preservation. As of now, the number of qualified conservationists is only about 700-800. So we’ve been reaching out to government museums and NGOs, and many of them have responded positively.”