Museum director A.K. Pandey said that statues from different periods and varying styles will be on display. “This project is a part of the Braj Heritage City plan submitted to the Central government by the district administration,” he said.
Mathura is one of the cities chosen by the Narendra Modi government under a plan to conserve heritage sites.
The state government museum at Mathura, founded in 1874 by Sir F.S. Growse, is presently being given a facelift to attract visitors. It was in public focus some two months ago when a group of miscreants vandalized Queen Victoria’s statues on Independence Day.
The museum director has asked the state government for more funds to construct toilets for men and women, facelift the guest house in the premises and install an RO plant to provide clean drinking water. Officials at the museum said work has already begun. Security has been tightened and CCTV cameras will be installed soon.
The Mathura museum is unique as it is the only institution that has rare statues of Buddha in possession. It houses collections of eminent archaeologists like Alexander Cunningham, F. S. Growse and Anton Fuhrer. A stamp was released on October 9, 1974, commemorating the centenary of the museum’s existence.
However, due to lack of publicity, most people who visit the city do not even know about its existence.
Ashok Bansal, author, who produced a documentary on Mathura Museum Boltey Patthar, told TOI “This is the biggest in Asia. Historical records say Buddha met his contemporary, Lord Mahavira, in Mathura. This place is a confluence of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu cultural traditions. Two human-sized statues of Buddha are special. One is in the museum, the other in the Central hall of parliament.”
Bansal said it was unfortunate that not many people come to see the museum which has the largest collection of statues of a glorious era of Indian history. “For want of resources or mismanagement, or the lethargy of the culture department thousands of statues are lying in the godowns. The roofs need urgent repairs. More foreigners particularly from Japan and Germany visit the museum than the locals or even school or college students.”
The collections were shifted to the present building in Dampier Nagar in 1930. The building also displays a wide range of terracottas, inscribed bricks, clay seals, bronze objects and paintings that collectively came to be described later as the Mathura school of art and sculptures, of 3rd century BC to 12th century AD, during which the Great Kushan and Gupta emperors attained the peak of glory. “It’s the best place to study pristine Indian art and iconography,” said Paras Nath Choudhary, a retired scholar of South Asia Institute specializing in Indology.