Heritage in a sad state: rare historical relics in Mymensingh Museum. Photo: STAR
The utter negligence of the authorities has put Mymensingh museum's rare relics in jeopardy. Today the museum is beset with many problems: inadequate space for 127 rare relics sculptures, metal and wooden works, among others-- garnered from zamindars' palaces in the Mymensingh region, poor preservation and display systems as well as poor lighting.
The museum was established in 1969 by the then Deputy Commissioner of Mymensingh at the bagan bari of zamindar Madan Babu at Amrita Babu Road in the district town. Run initially by the Mymensingh Municipality, it was later put under the charge of the Department of Archaeology in 1995 through a gazette notification.
At present the museum is run by the Office Assistant (Assistant Custodian-In-Charge), ASM Nasir Uddin. Unfortunately, the post of Assistant Custodian has not been filled for over one- and- a- half years, says a museum source.
The relics collected from various locations in Muktagacha, Gouripur and Atharabari are a testimony to the zamindar's aesthetic tastes. In the museum's showcases are elephant skulls, (the only such collection in the country's museums), heads of deer, candle clusters, a sofa set made of wood and an elephant's tusk, statues fashioned out of white and black stone by Italian sculptors and a statue made of plaster of Paris. These relics are a rarity in Bangladesh.
According to regular visitors, some of the art works, such as earthenware, a peacock mummy, rare coins, a big umbrella used for hunting, ancient bricks with artistic design and handwriting on paper and palm leaves are missing from the museum. However, Nasir Uddin could not respond to such allegations.
The museum is confronted with other problems as well: Shashi Lodge, another beautiful building, now being used as a Teacher's Training College (Female), is yet to be handed over to it. An inter-ministerial meeting between the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Ministry of Education in 1995 had arrived at an agreement that Shashi Lodge would be handed over to the Cultural ministry for proper preservation. This is unfortunate, say sources, as there is a considerable loss of revenue for the museum in the absence of an implementation of the move.