Preservation plan for the National Art Gallery | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 18, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 18, 2007

Preservation plan for the National Art Gallery

After the return of three restorers completing their higher education from abroad, the 'Preservation Plan for Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy National Art Gallery' project is in full swing. The aim of the project is to protect and restore the damaged art works and to preserve them. Funded by Royal Norwegian Government, the restoration and preservation project will be completed in two phases: Worksop and train-up of the selected persons on restoration abroad and to set up a lab that is fully functional.
Already the first phase has been smoothly completed. Four restorers were selected for higher education abroad through a workshop, which was conducted by Norwegian experts: Jorgan Solstad and Thierry Oliver Ford from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research in 2004. Simon R Pereira of Bangladesh Shipakala Academy was the co-ordinator of the programme. The 142 paintings from BSA archive-- including Quamrul Hassan's Tin Konya, Aminul Islam's Genocide and others-- had been restored during the workshop, and were later exhibited.
Hasanur Rahman Riaz and Mohammad Shahadat Hossain Suman were sent to University of Northumbria, UK, to complete master's degree in Conservation of Fine Arts. Riaz's field is on 'easle painting' and Suman's field is on 'paper work'. Shahin Akhtar Lipi has completed post graduation on restoration from National Museum Institute of India. And Gazi M Zahirul Islam is doing his final research at the same institute in India and expected to join the team in coming September. Of the four selected restorers, three Riaz, Lipi and Gazi-- are from fine arts background while Suman is from chemistry background.
The three restorers, after joining Shilpakala, have already set up a lab at the National Art Gallery building of BSA. Within A few months experts from Norway will come to Bangladesh to help these restorers to establish a standard restoration and preservation lab.
The restorers informed that their primary target is to restore and preserve about 5000 art works of BSA collection. Over 200 art works are severely damaged as holes have been created in those art works. The restorers have to fill up the holes by recreating. Besides, rest of the art collection has been affected in a minor way. These works need cleaning and polishing.
Explaining the reason behind the need for restoration, Mohammad Shahadat Hossain Suman mentioned three major causes: Mechanical damage, chemical damage and biological damage.
To preserve the art works for longer duration Suman said, “The best solution is to keep the art works in neutral (ph 7) condition or at least to keep in alkaline condition. Intensity of light, hot temperature and humidity increases the acidity rate of the mediums and decreases the art works quickly. Even in the galleries the lights should be switched off as soon as the viewers leave the place.”
On the current problems of the lab restorer Hasanur Rahman Riaz pointed out the defects in bureaucracy. To quote him, “The frequent change of the project director is creating a big problem. The new persons do not understand the work process.”
The primary goal of the project is to restore the art works at BSA collection. Riaz said, “We expect to complete our task regarding the BSA collection by or before 2010 (the official target of completing the National Art Gallery).”
After fulfilling the primary goal, the restorers wish to help other organisations and private collections to restore and preserve art works of renowned artists such as Zainul Abedin, Quamrul Hassan and SM Sultan.

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