The Museum of Christian Art at Old Goa, the first such museum in Asia, will undergo a major renovation and upgradation work, for which it would remain closed for the next two years, a senior official said. The renovation is aimed at bringing the museum on par with the global standards of museology. "The museum has embarked on a major, exciting and prestigious project aimed to keep pace with the present day world standards of museology and museography.
It will vastly enhance the facilities for visitors and staff," curator of the museum, also known as Christian Art Museum, Natasha Fernandes told PTI. "It will also be done to create an inviting and comfortable space for people to visit through an interesting museographic plan and contemporary exhibition systems," she further said, adding that the museum would remain closed for around next two years. The project also includes setting up of a restoration and conservation unit, which in the immediate term will carry out, with the assistance of INTACH, the conservation of the unique collection of art objects to guarantee their survival for future generations, she said. The museum, located around 9-kms from here, was set up in 1994 with the technical and financial assistance of The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation of Portugal and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), New Delhi. According to Fernandes, the museum has enriched the cultural heritage and history of Goa with an important and unique collection of Indo-Portuguese art objects in ivory, gold, silver, wood and textiles spanning from the 16th century to mid 20th century and is recognised the world over as the first of its kind in Asia. The total 157 art objects on the display will undergo renovation and upgradation, which will be executed by an expert team of conservators from INTACH, a team of architects, engineers and museologists of the museum, and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, she said. "We have a painting of St Ursula that is attributed to the mid-16th century," Fernandes said, claiming it to be the oldest object at the museum. There is also the model of the tomb of St Francis Xavier (in ivory) which is from the mid-20th century dated 1965. She said annually, on an average 6,500-7,000 tourists visit the museum, which is a part of the cluster of world heritage monuments of Old Goa, preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India. "With vastly improved visitor experience being planned, there will be a substantial increase in the footfalls, which increase significantly between October and February," she said. On the security front, she said the museum has24X7 CCTV surveillance, which was installed after a heist there two years ago. "We also have 24X7 security guards, including an armed guard to ensure safety of the collections as well as visitors. We also have panic alarms that are connected to police phone lines and the church in-charge office," she said. Fernandes said security will be significantly enhanced in the refurbished museum, including installation of strategically-placed security sensors at various spots. During the shut-down, some of theart objects from the museum collection will be displayed at the Church of Santa Monica located near the museum, she said.
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