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Our role in protecting cultural heritage

Dr.R.Kannan

India is a country rich in art treasures and heritage monuments. There are many laws to protect our cultural and artistic heritage, but their awareness is not high.

The Archaeological Survey of India protects the innumerable national monuments in our country and preserves them for posterity. Similarly, the State Department of Archaeology is involved in the protection of State monuments in Tamil Nadu, carrying out excavation in its jurisdiction, preserving movable cultural heritage such as sculptures, bronzes, coins, terracotta objects, etc. Museums are treasure houses, where thousands of antiquities are preserved for posterity. The TN Department of Museums has established 20 museums in the State,the one in Virudhunagarbeing the latest one.

Conservation methods are practised to protect the artefacts in Museums from both natural and artificial dangers. New conservation methods are constantly being invented. The Government Museum, Chennai did a pioneering project in the authentication of objects via fingerprinting. This will prevent situations which occurred in the past, for example when the ownership of the stolen Sivapuram Nataraja bronze had to be proved with great difficulty by referring to the dimensions mentioned in the Agama Sastras and their bearing a definite relationship to the idols in the temples.The Museum has innovatively thought of making holograms of rare bronzesand displaying them.

Police have confiscated hundreds of antiquities from idol lifters. The return of the Pathur Nataraja is one of the finest examples of the skill of the police in bringing back our priceless art heritage with the help of archaeologists. Latest surveillance and alarm equipment are needed to prevent and detect theft immediately. Faking is yet another menace, which has assumed major dimensions.

Museums are preparing disaster management plans to safeguard their own collections. Modern equipment to safeguard the collections is available. Training is provided to new recruits and experienced staff, so that safeguarding objects is effectively carried out.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own

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