New Delhi, 25 July-2014, PTI: India’s own version of Madame Tussauds museum was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday with fibre-glass statues of former Presidents and eye-catching gifts received by them from abroad on display.
The opening of the museum, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was part of a series of programmes being organised by the Rashtrapati Bhavan to commemorate completion of Mukherjee’s two years in office.
President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurates museum on completion of 2 yrs in office
Flanked by Modi on one side and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with his wife Gursharan Kaur on the other, Mukherjee cut the ribbon of the museum which has been dedicated to people of the country as part of the President’s initiative to make Rashtrapati Bhavan people-friendly.
Thanking Modi, cabinet ministers and others who gathered at the function, Mukherjee said, “I am sure this museum will enable the people of our nation to obtain an inside view of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, its art, architecture and vibrant community as well as educate them on the lives of various Presidents.”
The museum showcases landmark events like planning and construction of Raisina Hill edifices, signing of Gandhi-Irwin pact in the erstwhile Viceroy’s House, meeting of leaders to take a decision on the partition of India and oath taking ceremonies, held in Durbar Hall, of first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and first President Babu Rajendra Prasad.
In the museum, which has been established in the erstwhile stable of the Rashtrapati Bhavan that housed horses and ceremonial coaches, the story of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is narrated using sound-light-video animations, laser and holographic projections and augmented reality.
It has a simulated battlefield, examples of furniture designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens for the Viceroy’s residence, ceremonial coaches, photographs and memorabilia of the President’s Body Guard and paintings of the 19th Century.
It has a ‘know your Presidents enclave’ to help visitors identify different Presidents and see audio-video clippings related to them.
The museum, replete with gifts that previous Presidents received, has been curated and raised to showcase the history since 1911 till the contemporary times.
The museum, situated inside the President’s Estate, has collection of art items received by different Presidents as gifts from individuals and institutions and displays paintings, sketches and decorative furniture items.
Among the fascinating artifacts displayed in the museum are two gold-plated silver thrones used by the Royal couple in Delhi Durbar of 1911, furniture items designed and made by Edwin Lutyens, a ceremonial Victorian coach, a double decker hunting coach, paintings by the Daniels, MF Hussain and many other illustrious artists, and gifts received from heads of states from many countries round the globe.
A walk-through diorama with audio-visual narration presents a small collection of arms used in different battles of the 18th century, the great Indian Mutiny, Anglo-Sikh wars and Afghan wars inside the museum, which has been created after converting a ‘stable block and coach house’.
Friday’s function was attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, among others.
The museum would be opened for public from August one for three days — Friday, Saturday and Sunday and for the first three months, it will be free. Later, seeing the response, a small fee may be charged and reservations could be made online.
The museum will also showcase old artifacts, paintings, Lutyens designed furniture, ‘company art’ (pertaining to the East India Company) and a number of never-seen exhibits. A sync of audio and still photographs will provide the information on particular exhibits.
Mukherjee also inaugurated knowledge hub, set up in collaboration with M/s Intel India, in Dr Rajendra Prasad Sarvodaya Vidyalaya to encourage young students towards studies through use of technology.
The President also inaugurated service apartments inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan which will enable an expansion of Rashtrapati Bhavan’s in-residence programme for innovators, artists and writers.