Bihar government on Friday shut the doors of historic Patna museum for visitors to undertake restoration and revamping of its 95-year-old iconic structure as a part of redevelopment project. Till recently Patna museum was the state museum of Bihar, now it has become part of Bihar Museum Society under the Society Registration Act.
The museum is likely to reopen after three months. The official deadline will remain in effect till August 31, said additional secretary of Bihar’s Art Culture and Youth Programme Department Deepak Anand. But it is likely to be extended. There would not be any revenue loss due to its closure”, said Anand to The Statesman.
One of the prized collection of museum is the holy relic of Lord Buddha. Every visitor pays Rs 100 to see the relic while the foreign tourists will have to pay Rs 500 for the same.
A multi-crore project on redevelopment and extension of the magnificent building of the museum is underway whose foundation stone was laid by the Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in August 2020.
During the period of renovation and redevelopment work, old artefacts will be stored till the expansion work is complete.
Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, the building is one of the finest examples of museum architecture in India. Patna museum one of the landmarks of the city was formally set up by Edward Gait the then lieutenant governor of Bihar and Odisha. In the beginning, the collection of this museum was housed in the ground floor of the northern annexe of Patna high court.
By the end of 1928, the new building was completed and was formally handed over on March 1929. The museum was declared open to public by the then governor Huge Stephenson on March 7, 1929.
Patna museum once had star attractions including 53-feet long fossil tree, Didarganj Yakshini, Thanka paintings, holy Buddha relics, Mughal period arms, Bone tools, Chausa bronze, Mauryan period Male Torso, chariot wheel and several images of Buddha of Pala period, now most of these artefacts have been shifted to the new Bihar museum.
Now Patna museum will have collection of modern and contemporary India since 1765. In the renovated building the modern galleries would be set up to house modern items.
All the major ancient and medieval artefacts including Didarganj Yakshini are now displayed in the Bihar museum. Currently in the Patna museum campus has KP Jayaswal Research Institute and Regional record survey office. What will happen to these institutes is still not certain.
With the shifting of artefacts to the Bihar museum has attracted controversy among the opposition party leaders and art lovers. The leader of the opposition in the Bihar assembly Vijay Kumar Sinha has demanded the judicial inquiry into the matter related to the new additional construction and proposed construction of tunnel to connect both the museums. “ What is the need for such construction. It’s a wastage of fund. Why to make tunnel which will cost several crores”, he told a private city channel.
Patna will soon get “ heritage tunnel” a subway between Bihar museum to Patna museum covering a distance of 1.5 km. The proposed tunnel has been assigned to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation ( DMRC) by Bihar government urban development and housing department which will provide connectivity between two museums.
The MoU between urban development department and DMRC has already been signed . The AC tunnel will have an art gallery, showcasing the state’s art, culture and heritage through Madhubani painting, murals and other artefacts on the tunnel walls. The visitors will have well equipped with battery operated Golf Car for smooth and eco-friendly services for commuting, said an official.