Don’t ignore the Napier Museum and the potential it has to generate more revenue, the Kerala Public Expenditure Review Committee has told the state government. The committee, in its second report for 2011-2012, noted that 1,115 paintings by artists such as Raja Ravi Varma and Tagore are lying ignored at the 134-year-old British era structure.
Terming the museum as a ‘world heritage centre’ where classic paintings are kept, the committee has recommended that it should be ‘standardised’, helping to increase the revenue many fold.
‘’In this museum, 1,115 pieces of world-class super paintings, including paintings by Raja Ravi Varma and Tagore, are dumped in the stock room for want of space. If a sufficiently large space is created and the paintings (are) displayed with description and an interpreter, then foreign tourists and researchers would visit and revenue collection will be augmented,’’ the committee headed by Dr B A Prakash noted.
The committee cited the Napier Museum as an example of how museums and zoos can be used to generate revenue for the government, ‘’provided they are standardised and properly maintained.’’ The revenue potential of these institutions is not properly grasped by the government, according to the committee.
Designed in 1880 by Robert Chisholm, the consulting architect of the Madras government, and named after Lord Napier, the museum houses a rare collection of archeological and historical artefacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and ivory carvings, the committee said in its report. The Sri Chitra Art Gallery, a part of the museum, has in its possession works by Raja Ravi Varma and Nicholas Roerich as well as Mughal and Thanjavur art.
‘’All properties of these centres are to be digitised and departments opened to researchers, both domestic and foreign, and charge heavy fees,’’ the committee noted. The committee has also recommended the establishment of a herbarium, which can improve our knowledge of herbs, supply herbs to the medical industry and generate additional income.
‘’The committee recommends that autonomy of the museum may be thought of as an incentive mechanism to revamp its activities to add to the cultural heritage of the country and to bring more revenue to the government,’’ it said.