Mapping National Museum – The Great Erection and Other Shrouded Mysteries, In The Dusty Corridors
Amid 21st century dust.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Hooded history here.
One afternoon The Delhi Walla walks along the corridors of National Museum. India’s biggest depot of heritage with objects dating back to 3rd century BC, the museum was never seen in such a bizarre state.
The corridors are washed in dust. Construction laborers are everywhere. It turns out that new floors are being laid along the corridors of all the floors. (The marble flooring of the exhibition halls are not being touched).
A number of prized exhibits, however, are installed in the corridors too. Now they are shrouded in blue or black plastic sheets–a feeble if moving attempt to protect them from the 21st century dust. The covered sculptures are looking like coffins waiting to be buried.
A few of these relics can be glimpsed from gaps in their plastic sheets. There’s the 19th century Ganesha from Rajasthan. There’s the 13th century horned lion Vyala from Orissa.
There’s a shoulder. There’s a breast.
While a museum official says that the work on the floors began a few days ago and will be completed a few days later, the visitors are making their way through the dust as if this is the most expected thing to encounter in a world-class museum. A woman in a hat stops beside a pile of garbage bags and cardboard cartons. The sculpture of a bejeweled man is placed behind the mess. The hands are missing, as well as the feet. But the erection stands unmolested (see last photo below). The woman isn’t looking impressed.
Note: The Delhi Walla wrote on the National Museum here, but it is not enough. In the series Mapping National Museum, I intend to survey minutely each room in the museum, observing with you the souvenirs of our past.
Men at work