Mansion gets a makeover
Even as lovely old buildings are being pulled down to make way for unimaginative concrete structures, the Manickyavelu Mansion is being refurbished to accommodate the National Gallery of Modern Art.
This mansion will soon have a new look.
EVER NOTICED the Manickyavelu Mansion on Palace Road? Chances are you haven't. This beautiful property that dates back to the 1930s is in for a makeover and will soon house the National Gallery of Modern Art.
The 3.5-acre property was taken over by the State Government in the early 1970s, and has now been handed over to the Centre for construction of the gallery.
"The project has been approved and the plans are all ready. We should be starting work, and by 2004 we should be through with the project," says Arif Ulla Sharief, Officer on Special Duty, National Gallery of Modern Art.
The architects, Venkataramanan Associates, say this will be more than just a gallery.
"It is a very appropriate use of a property like this. The style of this mansion is typical to Bangalore. It has a curious mix of the colonial and Indian styles of architecture," Naresh Narasimhan, of Venkataramanan Associates, adds.
The mansion once belonged to the Yuvaraja of Mysore who, in the 1930s, sold it to a businessman, Manickyavelu Mudaliar.
The Mudaliar family lived is this aristocratic residence for several decades. A.R. Ramesh, a communications teacher and a distant relative of the family, recalls some of the lavish parties that were hosted there. "I must have been only nine or ten, but I clearly remember the huge family gatherings that were held at the mansion."
After the State Government took over the property in the 1970s, it passed through several hands - from the Karnataka Housing Board to the Directorate of Social Welfare and Backward Classes. In 1993, the Devaraj Urs Institute of Social Welfare and Backward Classes was started on the premises. Finally, in the year 2000, the Directorate of Kannada and Culture stepped in to set up the Gallery of Modern Art.
Incidentally, the proposal has been hanging fire for years and now this beautiful mansion is getting all spruced up for the modern era.
The mansion will showcase contemporary Indian art, including paintings and sculpture. "The State has provided the land and building to the Centre, and the Kannada and Culture Department will be paying Rs. 31 lakh annually as rent to the Union Government,'' adds Mr. Sharief.
Apart from art displays, the gallery will double as a centre for the study of art.
A view of the Manickyavelu Mansion.
There will be an auditorium and an art shop and the place will be the venue for cultural interaction. Hitherto, Bangalore has had no such building dedicated completely to the arts and such a gallery will put it on the country's cultural map.
"If one has to host shows or exhibitions of the works of great artists such as Picasso and Dali in Bangalore, there is really nowhere one can do it.
But with this gallery coming up, we are hoping that Bangalore will become an art and culture centre more than ever before," says Mr. Naresh Narasimhan.
Bangaloreans are too painfully aware of this lacuna when Picasso's works were displayed last year in Delhi and Mumbai.
In fact, very few Delhi denizens bothered to turn up to have a look at the avant-garde master's works.
With a gallery of this kind coming up Bangaloreans too will be able to savour the works of great artists. The Central Public Works department (CPWD) is in charge of the construction, which should start soon. Meanwhile, the architects have conducted all the structure tests and the plans are in place.
The main structure will not be touched, only refurbished, while two additional new wings will be added. "The architects, along with their engineers, have conducted the structural systems test to find out the strength of the substructure (the foundation), the superstructure and the roofing, and changes needed are being looked into," according to Mr. Sharief.
The present built-in area of the property is 19,009 sq. ft., which will increase to 66,371sq. ft. after construction. "We are planning to add two new galleries on either side of the existing structure and also an art shop and a canteen. The structure will be renovated with minimum repairs," says Mr. Narasimhan.
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