In Conversation with Anupam Sah at the CSMVS Conservation Centre

Video: Highlights from the program (1 min., 15 sec.)

MUMBAI, July 13, 2013 — On a sunny Saturday morning, Asia Society members were allowed an exclusive behind-the-scenes view of the expansive Conservation Centre of CSMVS (formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum), led by head conservator Anupam Sah. After brief introductory speeches on the importance of art conservation and heritage preservation by Sah and Director Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the audience was introduced to the Art Conservation Resurgence Project, which aims to standardize conservation techniques and expand public awareness of heritage preservation throughout the country. In addition, Sah talked about the Conservation Centre's collaborations with other institutions, including their current work with London's Courtauld Institute on the treatment of a French 19th-century salon painting from the permanent collection.

The group toured through the Tibet and Nepal galleries, with Sah providing a crash course on Thangka paintings, pointing out the characteristic distinctions between 13th-century Nepalese Thangkas and more recent Tibetan forms. He explained their original context as devotional and spiritual objects kept in Buddhist monasteries, and showed the changes in compositional traditions and color palette shifts that have taken place over several centuries.

For the final hour of the event, members were invited into the Conservation Centre, where experts introduced basic examination techniques and painting treatment methods, and demonstrated the professional usage of infra-red, ultraviolet lights, and spectrometers for color analysis. The group saw many different works undergoing treatment, including scrolls, paintings, and manuscripts.

Sah concluded by offering the audience some practical tips on how to preserve their own collections. Recommendations included using light cotton cloth to wrap works on paper, keeping light-sensitive objects in boxes, and effective framing methods to ensure longevity.

Reported by Aliya Bhatia, Intern, Asia Society India Centre

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