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Home / Lucknow / Will Jinnah’s portrait find place in State Museum?

Will Jinnah’s portrait find place in State Museum?

Will Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait find place in the State Museum? As the chorus over the removal of his portrait from AMU gets louder, the question now arises where it would finally be placed

lucknow Updated: May 05, 2018 15:22 IST
Oliver Fredrick
Oliver Fredrick
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
H Butler’s life size statue at the gallery.
H Butler’s life size statue at the gallery.

Will Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait find place in the State Museum? As the chorus over the removal of his portrait from AMU gets louder, the question now arises where it would finally be placed.

Officials of the museum, which has a separate wing to house ‘controversial’ statues and portraits, are mum over the possible shifting of Jinnah’s portrait. But some of them said they don’t have a problem either, if they are ordered to accommodate it.

Citing Jinnah’s role in the partition of the country, some officials even said that his portrait shouldn’t get any place in India.

AK Singh, director, State Museum said he hasn’t got any such order from the state government. “We preserve statues, sculptors and portraits, only if we get an order to do so,” he said on the possible shifting of Jinnah’s portrait to the museum.

The separate wing that houses ‘controversial’ statues/sculptures brought from across the state is situated on the rear side of the State Museum building, adjacent the Raj Hans TU 124 aircraft stationed on the campus within the Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden premises.

A marble bust of Queen Victoria in the art gallery.
A marble bust of Queen Victoria in the art gallery.

The hall christened as ‘foreign sculptural art gallery’ is less attractive as compared to the surroundings on the main campus of the State Museum that also has colourful signages, cages of animals etc.

This small art gallery houses almost two dozen colonial relics that are kept in neglect. These include the life-size bronze statues of Queen Victoria (who also held additional title of empress of India).

The queen’s statue, brought from Allahabad, is perhaps the grandest one. The hall also has another sculpture of Queen Victoria (also brought from Allahabad) made of one piece marble.

The other relics include statues of George V (brought from Deoria) and a single piece marble statue of Sir John Woodburn, governor of Bengal and Awadh (1843-1902).

“The bronze statues are decaying. Initially, these were kept in the open but the gallery was constructed in 2006, and these statues were finally shifted to save them from the vagaries of nature,” said the caretaker of the hall.

“I wonder why the government is still preserving sculptures of personalities who left us with scarred memories. This hall houses nothing except controversies,” he added.

The process of ‘dumping’ sculptures/statues of colonial icons in backyard of the museum began since 1957.

“Prior to 1957, the statues of Queen Victoria and other colonial icons were commonly seen at public places. But things changed after that, when some right wingers became aggressive while observing the centenary of the First War of Independence (1857) and demanded their removal,” said Roshan Taqui, a noted historian who has penned several books on Lucknow.

Taqui said it was then the state machinery began ‘dumping’ these statues in the backyard of the State Museum. The historian cited Begum Hazrat Mahal Park’s case, calling it a glaring example.

“Initially, this park was known as Queen Victoria Park and used to house a bronze sculpture of Queen Victoria. But following the protest, it was removed,” he added.

Similarly, the statue of King George V installed at GPO park, (the place that currently has the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel) was removed after the protest and shifted to the state museum’s backyard, said the historian.

Hindustantimes

Similar protests and controversies were witnessed from other districts as well and many sculptures/statues from other districts were shifted to the backyard of the museum. “Another glaring example was reported in Agra in 2014 when some people vandalised three giant statues of Queen Victoria and the municipal museum allegedly threw them into garbage,” said Haider Rizvi, heritage activist from Lucknow.

Rizvi said the 150-year-old bronze statues were brought to the museum in the Krishna Dutt Paliwal Park (known as Hewitt Park before Independence) in Agra in 2014. But one fine day, they disappeared from their marble pedestals and were found lying in the museum’s backyard. The municipal commissioner and the district magistrate denied having issued any orders for shifting these statues.

“We should accept history as it is and avoid politicising it,” he added.

However in such a situation, when the Jinnah portrait row is at its peak, it remains to be seen where it finds place.

The bronze statue of Queen Victoria at the Foreign Sculptural Art Gallery of the State museum in Lucknow.
The bronze statue of Queen Victoria at the Foreign Sculptural Art Gallery of the State museum in Lucknow.

SEPARATE GALLERY FOR ‘CONTROVERSIAL’ STATUES AND SCULPTURES

The separate wing that houses ‘controversial’ statues/sculptures brought from across the state is situated on the rear side of the State Museum building, adjacent the Raj Hans TU 124 aircraft stationed on the campus within the Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden premises.

The hall christened as ‘foreign sculptural art gallery’ is less attractive as compared to the surroundings on the main campus of the State Museum that also has colourful signages, cages of animals etc.

This small art gallery houses almost two dozen colonial relics that are kept in neglect. These include the life-size bronze statues of Queen Victoria (who also held additional title of empress of India).

The queen’s statue, brought from Allahabad, is perhaps the grandest one. The hall also has another sculpture of Queen Victoria (also brought from Allahabad) made of one piece marble.

The other relics include statues of George V (brought from Deoria) and a single piece marble statue of Sir John Woodburn, governor of Bengal and Awadh (1843-1902).