Chennai: “Our neighbour Karnataka has six site museums, but Tamil Nadu has only one,” said Dr T. Arunraj, Superintending Archaeologist (Museums), Archaeological Survey of India, as he delivered the monthly lecture titled 'The role of Museums in preserving our cultural wealth: With special reference to the origin and development of ASI's Site Museums' on Friday.
However, the state department of archaeology, which organised the lecture, is forerunner in educating the youth about the importance of conserving monuments and museums, Arunraj said.
“The department runs a programme on conserving objects which is a model we try to emulate in the ASI,” he said.
Highlighting the need for site museums, which are ones situated near the site of excavation itself, Arunraj said that in ancient times, this was a norm. “The site museums keep the context of the excavations intact. The surroundings influencing the artefacts can also be studied this way,” he said. The Tamil Nadu government has only one site museum- Fort St George museum. “We are trying to make more at Keezhadi and other such places,” he said.
The Taj Mahal, Mattancherry Palace, Red Fort and even Tipu Sultan's palace in Bangalore are all examples of site museums. Research says that men used to draw images of hunting on walls as a means of inspiration and to know the methodology, Arun said.
The Feroz Shah Kotla, built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq, was also an example of a museum. “He brought an Ashoka pillar from somewhere in Afghanistan and kept it there because he understood the importance of safekeeping ancient structures,” he added.
Crediting the Idol Wing Police in Tamil Nadu of working hard to retrieve stolen idols, Arunraj said “there are only one or two states in the country which has a dedicated wing to safeguard idols. Our state is one of them and the wing is doing incredible work in retrieving and restoring precious idols. In Sri Lanka, there is a department known as heritage police itself. There is something to learn from our small neighbouring country.”...