NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Culture has decided to exhibit antiquities brought back from the United States and Australia recently at the Gallery of Confiscated and Retrieved Antiquities in Purana Quila. In a joint effort with the Ministry of External Affairs, 186 artefacts — mainly idols — were repatriated between October and March. The returned artefacts made of sandstone, marble, bronze and brass and also paintings were stolen from different sites across the country and smuggled out over the decades.
Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy said as per the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, retrieved antiquities would be handed over to states from they were stolen from and ‘unclaimed’ objects would be exhibited at Purana Quila’s gallery.
“States may place these recovered antiquities in their museums or galleries. They will also need to make adequate measures for their protection. Unclaimed articles will be displayed here at Purana Quila,” said Reddy. He added that talks are on with other foreign countries to take possession of more cultural heritage objects stolen from India.
The Gallery of Confiscated and Retrieved Antiquities has a collection of rare exhibits that include metal artefacts, stone idols, coins, and ivory paintings discovered at ancient sites such as Arikamedu, Kalibangan and Hastinapura.
These are housed in cells near the western fortification of the 16th-century fort, the facility was opened in August 2019. In March, the ASI had received 29 antiquities from Australia while in December-January, 157 artefacts had come from the United States.