MANGALURU: An old-fashioned telephone, about 80 years old, an iron, various kinds of clocks and watches, cameras and other such articles are neatly arranged in one room. In another room, you have old gramophones, tape recorders, typewriters, a harmonium and other musical instruments. And in the third, agricultural implements, over 100 years old. All tell a story, reflecting their times.
Welcome to St Antony’s Home Museum, set up at St Antony Ashram at Jeppu, which cares for orphans.
Set up in September, it has over 5,000 rare artefacts – from old telephone sets and clocks, musical instruments, cameras, type-writers, decorative objects, lanterns, paper products to domestic and agricultural utensils.
The museum was the idea of Fr Onil D’souza, director of St Antony Ashram. Fr Onil told The New Sunday Express that the house in which it is located was built about hundred years ago. “The building also looks like a heritage house and the idea of setting up a museum was conceived seven years ago when I took charge as director of the Ashram. John Tauro decided to move his collection of these artefacts due to lack of space at his residence. Many people from the city are also coming forward to contribute such antiques to the Ashram museum,” he says.
Fr Onil says that in the second phase, the Ashram will add objects of religious importance. “Earlier, the Ashram used to get many visitors including students from various schools on a daily basis. However, due to Covid-19, the number has decreased. Once the situation returns to normal, we are expecting more visitors,” he says.
It is John Tauro, in his seventies, a retired civil aviation technical supervisor, who has donated this lifelong collection to St Antony Ashram. Tauro’s museum at his house at Shiva Bagh has been Mangaluru’s pride. He had collected some of the artefacts during his visits to Europe. The farm implements were given by his grandfather. Tauro worked in Kuwait for 35 years (1970-2005). It was during this time he could travel to more than 40 countries. Whenever he visited a country, he made sure to purchase some rare artefacts. Among all the collections, the watch is the oldest.
He purchased the old-fashioned telephone boxes in China, the UK, USA, Australia and Japan. A wooden radio, traditional wooden, brass and copper articles of the coastal region that he got from his grandfather are some of his favourites. In addition, the museum has an entire set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the National Geographic that he purchased in Kuwait. “Travelling is my passion and my aim is to collect as many rare items as possible and preserve them for future generations,” he says.
Somashekar B K, former assistant director, Tourism department, Dakshina Kannada, says that there is a need to preserve these objects of artistic, cultural and historical relevance. “Tourists visiting the coastal region will benefit from this unique museum,” he says.