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Damp walls, flaking paint endanger museum artefacts

Panjim: Around 10,000 artefacts dating back to the Portuguese-era and prior to that, housed at the Goa State Museum, located at the Adil Shah Palace, are in danger of getting ruined forever with the rain and the salinity in the air.

As per information the artefacts include important stone sculptures, manuscripts, paintings, carvings, bronze items, historical coins and wooden objects.

When Herald visited the temporary museum premises, it saw that a majority of the walls were damp due to water leakage and the paint flaky posing a danger to the artefacts. Also, a majority of the artefacts made of marble were exposed to rain water thus leading to a layer of moisture being formed on them.

Archaeologist Mangesh Deshpande said, “Salinity is everywhere, even when the museum was at Patto. Due to salinity in the air, old manuscripts and paintings might be affected in the long run. Those papers from that era were handmade and that is the reason it has survived for such a long period till today.”

Environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar speaking to Herald also confirmed that the entire area was saline and that it definitely was leading to deterioration of the artefacts. “Today there are many processes by which this can be reversed. Archaeologists must be consulted and due process must be followed,” he said

Museums Director Radha Bhave, however, had a different take on this. “Salinity in the air is all round the year and it can affect the artefacts. No artefacts are affected as of now; we have been regularly checking them. Another issue was with the rains there was leakage at the old secretariat due to which the walls were spoiled. We then immediately covered the walls with plastic to stop it,” she told Herald.

As the State Museum building at Patto was posing a threat to the artefacts due to its structural issues and leakage during the rains, the government decided to temporarily shift the museum to the old Secretariat.

Bhave added, “Only four galleries are put up for display while other artefacts are placed sealed in the store room as there is no place for display.”

The government had also charted out an extensive plan to renovate the structure on a war footing, over a year ago but it has failed to take off till date.

Historians have expressed dissatisfaction with the failure of the government to come up with a complete new building till date. “There was proposal for shifting the museum to ESG but till now nothing is done. Also the proposal for setting up a new building is yet to take off. Actually I am on that committee but yet we are all kept in the dark. I do not know what has happened to it,” historian Prajal Sakhardande said.

However, sources at the museum say that the old GMC building may be of historical importance but lacks space to house all the artefacts. “If you see the rooms of the old GMC building, they are very small and the artefacts cannot be displayed their due to space constrains,” sources said

A new museum building was to be constructed by demolishing the old structure but with a change in plans of the government to go ahead with an administrative building there; Museums Minister Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavlikar had stated that the exhibits would be shifted to a new a building elsewhere for which land was being identified. [H]

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