From an Army Mess preserving the warfare trophy of a flag captured in a long-forgotten battle to sustaining a 5,000-year-old Harappan bronze dancing lady in the National Museum, Delhi, conservation is available in many kinds. And, amongst the pioneering establishments concerned in conservation in the nation is the Indira Gandhi National Centre for The Arts (IGNCA).

The IGNCA focusses on a number of points of conservation — together with analysis, coaching and re-organisation of museum areas. It additionally lately held an exhibition ‘Conserving Values, Restoring Significance.’

The exhibition aimed to showcase the distinctive conservation work undertaken by the IGNCA, and educate the public about the importance of conservation. Sanjay Dhar, Consultant, Conservation Division, stated they wished to let folks know what the division did, and the way related and essential the work was in a single’s on a regular basis life.

One wonders why museums haven’t focussed extra on this space. Sources say there are solely three full-time conservators at the National Museum, Delhi, to deal with three lakh objects. In truth, India solely has about 200 skilled conservators.

The sheer range of the merchandise restored at IGNCA over 20 years, and the tasks it has handled is spectacular – the conservation lab was established in 2001. Each conservator works with sculptures, work, rock artwork and textile work, together with ‘thangkas’, to manuscripts, wooden, devices and bronzes. The IGNCA conservation workforce has established laboratories in Thailand and Vietnam to assist restore manuscripts, and assisted a museum in Guwahati re-organise its assortment. The National Crafts Museum in Delhi is an ongoing challenge too.

Achal Pandya, head of the division, Conservation, shared that, initially, the laboratory was arrange solely to preserve the collections at IGNCA. Gradually, request calls from the Delhi Police, Supreme Court of India (for paperwork and mosaics) and the Rashtrapati Bhavan noticed it increase its actions. The house in the new IGNCA campus will probably be roughly 10,000 sq ft, says Pandya.

Reorganisation of museum storage is a satisfying side of conservation, says Pandya. Unless one is conscious of the contents, it’s inconceivable to wash them, far much less showcase them, he says. He spoke of a difficult challenge in a museum in Guwahati, the place 15 of his workers labored for 15 days to reorganise the contents. The Craft Museum, Delhi, is an ongo ing challenge too — initially, solely 5,000 objects had been relocated; now, 30,000 objects will probably be handled. 

Training to preserve is, of course, essential — programs are solely accessible at the National Museum Institute, Delhi, and IGNCA, Delhi. At IGNCA, there have been three batches of the one yr submit graduate coaching course, with 20 college students in every batch.

Each has a unique motive for becoming a member of. Rini Hazel Templeton, presently working at the Delhi lab, was interested by restoring the stained glass home windows in her native church in Mussoorie — that motivated her to be taught extra about the topic. “You can earn more money authenticating a portray, however the magic of conservation is one thing else. You restore one thing to life,” she says.

Conservation is a career that has developed over the years. It is continually evolving. Pandya elaborates: “In the late Nineteen Twenties, Italian conservators who preserved the Ajanta wall work below the route of the Nizam of Hyderabad, used shellac to protect the paint. In hindsight, this was fallacious — the shellac peeled off together with the paint.”

Old manuscripts
being dry-cleaned.

Old manuscripts
being dry-cleaned.
| Photo Credit:
Photo courtesy: IGNCA

Pandya explains: “A elementary precept of conservation is reversibility. Only a time-tested technique ought to be used. We now know laminating paperwork is a defective technique, however we used it in India until as late as the yr 2000. Fumigation too is an irreversible course of, which is dangerous for the objects being preserved. So, it is a continuously evolving space, and the extra one conserves, the extra information one positive aspects.”

In India, the official historical past of conservation as we all know it now, began in Chennai in the Nineteen Twenties, when a conservation laboratory was established to wash the patina off bronzes, by means of electrolysis. Today that very patina is taken into account so as to add to the price of the bronze! The wax used to guard the polish additionally was additionally, in hindsight, not the good sort, Pandya explains. “Wax used on work darkens it over the a long time. Today, we use beva wax, solely the place it’s acceptable. Only some work ought to be lined. The lining is artificial and has different repercussions.”

Pandya says there may be advantage in generally not doing something too. “When I used to be coaching in France, some work had been simply left alone. So, ready to resolve is a smart choice too. While touching up work, the new paint behaves in a different way from the 18th Century paint. The two paints age in a different way…, the portray will look badly restored.”

Pandya concludes: “If you don’t respect artefacts, you shouldn’t be a conservator. It shouldn’t be about the aesthetic worth of the merchandise; it ought to be respect for the object itself. The life of an individual is about 100 years, whereas the life of the objects we take care of is far, for much longer.”

The Delhi-based reviewer specialises in classical music.

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