|Seventy five years ago on the 10th
January 1922, the Museum opened its doors for the people of Mumbai. While
celebrating our Platinum Jubilee today, we feel happy and proud that the
institution has gradually grown to its present stature and is poised to
grow further in different directions particularly towards fulfilling its
role as an active cultural center and an informal educational institute
for the community.
At the same time the Museum has carefully and consciously preserved its original structure and surroundings. This is the only place today in this part of Mumbai, where the visitors can have a glimpse of an undisturbed heritage precinct.
A couple of years ago, the building was showing signs of heavy wear and tear. Its gigantic dome needed extensive repairs, the compound walls had crumbled and there were heavy leakage at various places. This was attended to and the repair of the dome was carried out for a total expenditure of rupees sixty lakhs. Work of this magnitude would not have been possible without the financial support from different sources, expertise of highly competent professionals and able guidance of the former director Mr. Gorakshkar. We gratefully remember the financial support of twenty lakhs from the Govt. of India, ten lakhs from Sir Ratan Tata Trust, ten lakhs from Sir Dorab Tata Trust and two and a half lakhs from the Mumbai Mahanagar Palika. Shri Shirish Patel the well-known structural engineer and architect took personal interest in the conservation of the Museum with his colleague Shri Srinivasachari and helped us with his expert guidance. We specially acknowledge his assistance in the restoration of this magnificent heritage building. Shri Rahul Mehrotra, the conservation architect, helped us in restoring certain architectural details including the compound wall.
The major repairs completed in March 1995, and the museum was ready to celebrate its Platinum Jubilee.
The first event of the Platinum Jubilee was the inauguration of Shrunkhala in September 1996. It is an Interactive Computer Centre at the museum for the students and teachers of art, history and culture, which provides them with Internet facilities and CD ROM library. The centre started with the encouragement and support of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, which enabled us to purchase and set up a computer unit for this purpose. The centre was set up with the expertise of Dr. Raj Mehta who continues to help us in this endeavor. Thanks to him, the Museum will be on the Internet from the end of the Platinum Jubilee week. The Prince of Wales Museum is the first museum from India to be on the Internet.
We are also trying to develop the multimedia programs on the computer on cultural and educational themes to reach out to thousands of young minds.
Several other projects have been launched during the Platinum Jubilee year.
The Coomarswamy Hall is being air conditioned and upgraded to modify it into a proper exhibition and Seminar Hall, with the help of Sir Dorab Tata Trust. The Hall should be ready by the end of March this year.
The Museum brochure, an eight-fold, informative publication on the museum, is already available to the visitors. Our sincere thanks to the Museum Society of Bombay for sponsoring this project.
The guide-book of the museum is also under preparation.
The main Platinum Jubilee Publication is the Catalogue of the Master pieces of the museum, incorporating nearly three hundred illustrations, authored jointly by Shri Gorakshkar and Dr. Kalpana Desai, to be released sometime in the middle of this year.
With the initiative of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, the preparation of a catalogue of the Chinese and Japanese antiquities from the Sir Ratan Tata collections in our Museum will commence soon.
The Museum has undertaken a publication program for young students in a series entitled `Peep into the Past'. Out of these a booklet Vanashree dealing with tradition of environment conservation in India, is sponsored by the Pirojsha Godrej Foundation.
The same foundation has also supported the expenditure of reproducing our video documentary on Vanashree into Hindi, so that the message can reach wider audience.
Mrs. Saker Mistry is helping us in preparing gallery-trails and other publications for small children.
The Platinum Jubilee Day Celebrations of today has received tremendous support from all corners of this illustrious city of Mumbai. Here we would like to make mention of the help rendered by Smt. Arti Mehta, Chairman, Museum Society of Bombay; Mrs. Pheroza Godrej; and Mrs. Bhadra Bhavsar in organizing this function. Artist Vrundavan Solanki sketched the portrait of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan specially for our publication and Ms. Behroze Bilimoria designed it for us.
"Garland of Melodies" a special portfolio to be released to-day on the Platinum Jubilee Day will be available at the Museum counter soon. The Portfolio consists of a text of four pages and six almost actual size reproductions from a set of Deccani Ragamala of c. 1725 AD
On Friday, 10 January 1997, we have organized a scholarly lecture by Shri Sadashiv Gorakshkar on the subject of Yakshas at the Museum at 6.15 p.m. which we intend to publish later.
Though the need for a Cafe was felt for long, the same could not be set up for various reasons. We have finally been able to fulfill this work and we are planning to open a small Museum Cafe on the 10th of January 1997 for the benefit of the visitors.
Like all big institutions, we have to deal with a number of administrative and other problems. We have received ungrudging help from various experts particularly, Shri P.K. Rele Advocate and Solicitor, Shri Ajay Thakker, Income Tax Practitioner, Shri S.J. Chiniwalla, Advocate, High -Court, Shri R.R. Chari, former Income Tax Commissioner.
We also acknowledge the co-operation received from the Ward Officer of A ward as well as Sr. Inspector of Police, Colaba Police Station.
The Media has always encouraged us by projecting our activities for which the Museum is grateful to them.
The Museum belongs to the people of Mumbai. It gives us pleasure that today the Platinum Jubilee is being celebrated with close co-operation and active participation of the well wishers and friends of the Museum. We acknowledge here the contribution of institutions and individuals:
The Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd.
The Museum Society of Bombay.
Byramjee Jeejeebhoy (Pvt.) Ltd.
Jashoda Narottam Public Charity Trust Excel Industries Ltd.
ANZ Grindlays Bank
Pirjosha Godrej Foundation
M/s. Jardine Matheson Ltd.
M/s. Crown Chemical Products.
With the change of times, the corporate sector has also shown keen interest in the preservation of our cultural heritage. We are sure that our future plans and projects will receive their generous support.
From time to time we shall keep you informed of our plans.
Once again we thank all of you who
have directly or indirectly encouraged us in our various endeavors. and
wish you a happy 1997.