Bhau Daji Lad Museum, MumbaiThursday, June 16, 2016
Till you see something, you don't 'see' it. You may see a million pictures, but it will not firmly grip you in its silent eloquence. For that you need to walk into the space, breathe the air, where many an artisan has worked dedicatedly to recreate a poignant ode to an august artistic history. Dr. BhauDaji Lad Museum used to be the erstwhile derelict Victoria and Albert Museum became this polished jewel in Jan 2008 after 5 years of intensive restoration work. To say that team INTACH more than lived upto its mission of conserving this countries pluralistic cultural and artistic legacy by giving Mumbai this award winning example of excellence, would be stating the obvious. The simple and elegant exteriors of the building belie the explosion of intricacies that await you inside. "The grand wrought iron palisades, staircase railings and arched supports, as well as the Corinthian capitals and columns which are the defining features of the building were imported from England. The richly coloured details, the intricate woodcarving, the Minton tiled floors, the etched glass and gold gilding make it a unique example of 19th century architecture in the country."
"It was not easy to ascertain the original colours of the Museum as the chemical constituents in the paint could have changed the colour over the years. In the end, 'Celadon Green' was decided upon, a colour widely used in the 19th century buildings around the world.
The choice of Celadon green as the colour for the building was later confirmed by the restorers at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Henry Cole, the architect of the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, considered the colour to be the most appropriate colour for the contemplation of art objects."
"Perhaps the most daunting task before the team was to incorporate new lighting and electrical requirements which was substantial. It was important to consider not only the ambient lighting but also lighting the objects effectively. As the building was under restoration and the objects were in storage in their cases, this became a hugely challenging task. The stone walls made embedding the wires difficult, if near impossible. Fortunately the roof was more amenable and the wires were able to be concealed."
"There were debates as to whether the lighting should be period or modern. In the end the view prevailed that in a building which such ornate embellishment modern lighting would be inappropriate. The time period of the establishment of the Museum was researched carefully and lighting designs were created."
The grand wrought iron palisades, staircase railings and arched supports, as well as the Corinthian capitals and columns which are the defining features of the building were imported from England. The richly coloured details, the intricate woodcarving, the Minton tiled floors, the etched glass and gold gilding make it a unique example of 19th century architecture in the country."
Pardon the many pictures of the chandelier, you can see why it was so irresistible.
One of the unique features of the building is the flooring with Minton tiles on the stairwell and the upper floor. These tiles were shipped from England.
The next post will feature some of the artefacts in the Museum. It will be unfair to cram so much eyecandy and information into one post.
Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum has an active FB page which is updated with the recent activities. Today is the opening of the Polish Art Exhibition called "Eye on Poland". Do like their page and all those who feel passionate about art & culture in the city can even become part of their brilliant initiative ~ "Friends of the Museum"