Also known as Virasat Museum, it exclusively displays the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan with a diverse collection that includes textiles, jewellery, stoneware and inlay work, painting and pottery
Museum of Legacies situated in the heart of the walled city of Jaipur has opened recently in Kishanpole Bazar. With nearly 64 big and small rooms with two large halls and four-storied on the sides (mezzanines on both floors included), the carpet area is approximately 10,000 square meters.
Having five primary galleries, each one is allotted to an individual who has been instrumental in the art and culture scene of India, said Hridesh Kumar Sharma, director, Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Rajasthan. Also known as Virasat Museum, it exclusively displays the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan with a diverse collection that includes textiles, jewellery, stoneware and inlay work, painting and pottery.
The museum stores a visual journey of the history of jewellery making in Rajasthan, curated by Sudhir Kasliwal. Also present is Brij Bhasin’s collection of Everyday Embroideries showcasing the stunning array of textiles that are found across the state of Rajasthan. Similarly, Mitch Crites displays semi-precious stone and marble works that have been created in his oeuvre and paintings that were lovingly collected by him and his wife, Nilou, during their stay in India. The incredible collection of Pichvai paintings by Pooja Singhal highlights the beauty and cultural diversity of the region within the form.
Ojas Art brings a vibrant collection of indigenous paintings made by some highly skilled Bhil artists. Apart from these galleries, there is a space dedicated to two larger than life puppets, made by a well-known puppeteer Vicky Bhatt, that represent the much-loved traditional art form of Rajasthani puppetry. The museum hopes to be a microcosm of the best of Indian artistic practice.
The history of the present museum building is that it was originally the residence of Pandit Shivdeen, minister of the erstwhile Jaipur State during the reign of Sawai Raja Ram Singh II, from 1825 to 1830. In 1857, a ‘Madarsa-e-Hunari’ or the Institute of Arts, under the patronage of Sawai Raja Ram Singh II, was opened here. The curriculum included Indian painting, drawing, design and nature study, architectural drawing, engraving on metal, brass work, carpentry, wood carving, koft work, Damascene work, metal polishing, pottery, etc. Known as the oldest institution in the State to promote art and culture, it is also one of the pioneers in the tourist craft industry of Jaipur. The name was changed to Maharaja School of Arts and Crafts in 1886 which later succeeded by Rajasthan School of Arts, which was set up in the building in 1988.
About two years back, the school was shifted to a new campus. A year back, the government decided to convert the building into a museum space and Smart City was given the responsibility to restore it. The restoration work has been done using only traditional materials. These include things like lime plaster, kharanjha (a layer of wedge-shaped stone pieces put over stone slabs to ease load distribution and aid in insulation), lime-dhar (lime-mortar reinforced with jute fibres), khameera (a mixture of yellow sand called ramrajj and yellow stone gum called pevar with kesula flowers), etc.
Recently, the place was opened as a museum on December 9, 2017 and is a very inclusive space that caters to locals and tourists alike. The Department of Archaeology and Museums plans to showcase indigenous art from different parts of India in future. Apart from this, a fine-dining restaurant, a cafe and a gift shop would also be a part of the museum. Plans are underway to start art workshops, special summer programmes for students, live performances and cultural events, says Apurba Roy Choudhury, curator of the Museum.