Monday, 10 October 2011

Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery, Mysore

Recently my wife Nithi and I went on a brief sketching holiday to Mysore, one of the cleanest cities in India. The weather was extremely kind and it was very pleasant to be outside. We had made up our mind not to do the normal tourist circuit and instead confine ourselves to walking around the shady streets, taking in the streetscape, and streetside activities.
Jaganmohan Palace
 However, we were tempted to travel a bit from where we were staying to visit the Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery since we had heard that this gallery had a collection of prized paintings and artefacts that was worth seeing. The art gallery is located in the Jaganmohan Palace which was built in 1861 when the original Mysore Palace was gutted in a fire.The royal Wodeyar family used the Jaganmohan Palace as their home from 1861 to 1912 when the construction of the present Mysore Palace was completed.
Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery
A visit to the Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery is a must for anyone who wishes to learn how not to run a gallery. First of all, the building does not lend itself easily to this usage. The display is spread over three levels (floors) and even on each floor there are level variations where vistors have to negotiate several steps. And, there are no elevators or ramps to negotiate any of these level differences.

The paintings and artefacts are not displayed to advantage. They are badly positioned with no consideration given to the appropriate distance from which paintings of different sizes should be viewed, and the heights at which they should be hung to be viewer friendly. The lighting is absolutely terrible and is in fact by itself a great source of irritation and an impediment to the viewing of the paintings.

Worst of all is the condition of the paintings themselves. Many of the paintings appear to be torn and damaged. Some restoration work appears to have been attempted on a few of the paintings, but this has been done very incompetently. Mysore is a place which receives a lot of rainfall and yet there is no protection for the paintings and art objects in this gallery from dust and humidity.

That morning we had set out from our hotel very eagerly expecting a treat and instead we came away from the gallery feeling very depressed and angry with the gross neglect and inefficency of whoever was in charge of this place.