`Rebecca statue' to `Bracket Clock': Newly renovated Salar Jung Museum to showcase priceless artifacts

Renovation of Bidri, Indian Bronze, Indian sculpture, and South Indian minor art galleries have been completed and will be shortly thrown open to the public.

By CR Gowri Shanker  Published on  11 Aug 2022 3:49 AM GMT
`Rebecca statue to `Bracket Clock: Newly renovated Salar Jung Museum to showcase priceless artifacts

Hyderabad: Hyderabad's Salar Jung Museum housing a world-class collection of priceless art, antiques, glass, silver, metal, books and other artifacts will have added attraction in four newly renovated galleries.

Renovation of Bidri, Indian Bronze, Indian sculpture, and South Indian minor art galleries have been completed and will be shortly thrown open to the public.

The updated galleries add to the ongoing Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, 75 years of Indian independence, being celebrated in the country with pomp and gaiety.

Dr. A Nagender Reddy, Director, Salarjung Museum told NewsMeter that the renovation of four galleries has been completed and will be opened soon.

"The four galleries have been given a facelift. We are also putting on display some more items. It will be added attraction in the museum. The museum has a treasure trove of collections from across the country and world," Dr. Reddy said.

He said the Salarjung Museum has decided to invite Telangana Governor Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan and the Union Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Development of the North Eastern Region to inaugurate the renovated galleries.

"The galleries have been aesthetically done and will be added attractions to visitors to the museum. It will be opened soon," he added.

Among the prized treasures of the museum included an 1876 statue of veiled Rebecca sculpted by Italian artist Giovanni Maria Benzoni, a double Statue of Mephistopheles & Margaretta and the British-made 'Bracket Clock' which entices visitors hourly more at noon.

The clock has got a mechanical device because of which a miniature toy figure comes out of a room and strikes a gong at each hour and then goes back inside. It is ornamented with Ormolu mounts; during the 18th and 19th centuries, such curio clocks were quite popular in England.

At present, there are 39 galleries in the Museum in three blocks. Central Block has 27 galleries, Western Block has 7 galleries and Eastern Block has four galleries. Nearly 14,000 objects are housed in these galleries.

Indian collections are from Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, and places like Kangra, Basholi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mewar, Hyderabad, Golconda, Bijapur, Kurnool, and Nirmal.

Western collections are from the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Austria. The Eastern collections are from countries like China, Japan, Myanmar (Burma), Korea, Nepal, Thailand, and Indonesia, and Middle East countries like Egypt, Syria, erstwhile Persia, and Arabian regions.

Indian art objects comprise stone sculptures, bronzes, wood carvings, miniature paintings, modern paintings, ivory, jade, textiles, metal ware, manuscripts, Bidri, arms and armor, utility ware, etc.

Collections of the Salar Jung Museum are the mirrors of the past human environment, ranging from the 2nd century B.C to the early 20th century A.D.

The museum has over 46,000 art objects, 8,000 manuscripts, and 60,000 printed books. This collection has been divided into Indian Art, Middle Eastern Art, Persian Art, Nepalese art, Japanese Art, Chinese Art, and Western Art. Apart from this, a special gallery is devoted to the illustrious Salar Jung family, "The Founder's Gallery". The exhibits on display are divided into more than 38 galleries.

Indian art collection consists of Miniature paintings, Modern paintings, Bronzes, Textiles, Ivory, Jade, Bidri ware, Arms and Armour, Stone sculptures, Wood Carvings, Metal-ware, and manuscripts. This section also has ancient Andhra sculptures as well as Medieval period paintings.

After Salar Jung Museum was declared an 'Institution of National Importance' in 1961, an acquisition committee was formed, and several works of modern Indian artists were added to the original collection. Salar Jung Museum probably has the largest collection of 'Bidri ware' in the world.

Middle East is represented through its art objects from Persia, Syria, and Egypt covering a wide range of Carpets, Paper (manuscripts), Ceramics, Glass, Metal ware, Furniture, Lacquer, etc. A range of figurative and narrative Persian carpets depicting stories of "Khusrau" is among the prized possessions of the museum.

European collection comprises of art objects ranging from resplendent and excellent examples of Oil paintings, and aesthetically attractive glass objects to majestic furniture, splendid examples of ivory, enamelware, and clocks.

It has an extensive collection of Far Eastern Art consisting of Japanese and Chinese art objects of Porcelain, Bronze, Enamel, Lacquer-ware, Embroidery, Paintings, Wood, and Inlay work.

In the children's section, a train from the early 20th century which runs a short distance is a major attraction in the gallery. In addition, the gallery has Porcelain, Metal, Jade objects, and toy armies.

Besides, the museum has a rich library of rare books and illuminated manuscripts of enormous value. There are autographed manuscripts with seals and signatures of Emperors like Akbar, Aurangzeb, and Jahanara Begum (daughter of Shah Jahan). It is apparent from the library collection that Salar Jung III and his ancestors were great patrons of literature.

Established in 1951 on the southern bank of the River Musi in Hyderabad, the Salar Jung family is responsible for its collection of rare art objects from all over the world.

One of the most illustrious families in Deccan history, five of them having been prime ministers in the erstwhile Nizam rule of Hyderabad-Deccan. Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, popularly known as Salar Jung III was appointed Prime Minister by Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Nizam VII in 1912.

Salar Jung III relinquished the post of dewan or Prime Minister in November 1914 and devoted his life to enriching his treasures of art and literature.

The collection in the form of a museum was declared open on 16th December 1951 in Dewan Deodi, home of the late Salar Jung, and was opened to the public by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.

Later the government of India with the consent of the family members took over the Museum formally through a compromise deed and the museum was administered by the Ministry of Scientific Research and Cultural Affairs, Government of India.

Finally, in 1961, through an "Act of Parliament," the Salar Jung museum along with its library was declared an "Institution of National Importance".

The Museum was transferred to its present building, inaugurated by Dr. Zakir Hussain, President of India in 1968. The administration was transferred to an Autonomous Board, with the Governor of Telangana as its Chairman.

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