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Auction of heritage items on Chandigarh admn’s mind

To display them at museum coming up in Sector 18; ask institutions to use furniture; will auction what remains
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Munieshwer A Sagar, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON NOV 30, 2019 01:06 AM IST

The UT administration is planning to auction surplus heritage items.

The items include furniture, tapestry, drawings and other artefacts designed, made and used by French architect Le Corbusier, his cousin and Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret and others associated with the founding and planning of Chandigarh in the 1950s and 60s.

As per a list compiled by the Chandigarh Heritage Inventory Committee in 2012, there are 12,793 heritage items, of which a large number are in the possession of the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10, besides a huge stock of chairs and tables at the Punjab and Haryana civil secretariat and Vidhan Sabha, and the high court. The physical verification of these items has yet to be completed.

“The proposal is a part of efforts to preserve and conserve the heritage items. If the proposal goes through, the administration will auction the artefacts which are surplus in number,” said a senior UT official privy to the development.


A graded plan has been prepared under which most of the heritage items will be showcased at the new museum which is to come up at the government printing press, Sector 18. “UT departments and other organisations like Panjab University will be encouraged to use these items within their premises instead of other furniture,” said the official, adding that the artefacts that cannot be used and are still in surplus numbers will be put up for auction.

“Professional auction houses will auction the items under the aegis of the UT administration, and the funds generated will be used for preserving the heritage items,” the official added.

Significantly, in the 1980s and 90s, some UT departments had auctioned heritage properties on their own and that to at throw-away prices. “It was more an attempt to dispose of furniture rather than generating revenue. The auctions had invited censure from the UT administration as well as from the ministry of home affairs,” said the official.


Some of the heritage items found their way to the international market and have been auctioned at much higher prices to bidders across the world.

The UT administration has been struggling to stop auction of these items and those stolen from different departments and institutions.

New York-based auction house Phillips de Pury and Company, and Paris-based Artcurial, Marseilles and many others have been auctioning heritage items for the past over two decades.

For instance, a heritage manhole cover with the sectoral map of Chandigarh inscribed on it was auctioned for 11 lakh in London around a decade ago. This year, chairs designed by Jeanneret were auctioned for more than 10 lakh each.

“The auction of surplus items will help stop their theft and passage to foreign auction houses. Heritage enthusiasts across the world will also be able to bid for genuine heritage items with the administration itself,” said the official.

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