Intricate embroidery, wall hangings, colourful paintings, old vessels, cradles, and rare handlooms. All these and more were displayed at Shashwathi Centre for Women’s Studies and Museum at N.M.K.R.V. College for Women until recently. However, the college, has now closed the private museum, one of the rare museums that was dedicated to women.
Shelves bereft of the displays are all that remain of the museum that was set up by founder-principal C.N. Mangala in December 1982.
College principal Snehalata G. Nadiger told The Hindu that C.N. Mangala collected most of the items by going on a padayatra and many households voluntarily donated their heirlooms to be displayed. The decision to close down the museum was a difficult one to make. “The museum, that housed many precious artefacts, had become a sort of dumping ground over the years. People started dumping items that they didn’t have any use for, such as Dasara dolls made of plaster of Paris. Most of these were disintegrating. That apart, the museum had no visitors. At best, one or two visitors would come in a year,” she said.
Rashtreeya Sikshana Samithi Trust, which was maintaining the museum, had made many attempts to revive it. But with no visitors over the years, the trust decided to try and return the items on display to the donors.
“Apart from the writings of Tirumalamba, said to be the first woman writer in Kannada, which we have preserved, we are trying to return the other items to the donors. Some of the items that belonged to C.N. Mangala are preserved. We will display whatever is left in the R.V. institutions,” she said and added that the trust continues to have on its rolls two curators, a clerk, and a cleaner.
Trust president Panduranga Setty said attempts were made earlier to revive the museum.
“A few years ago, we had even submitted a proposal to the Tourism Department to have the museum included in the tourism circuit. That way, more people would have come to the museum. We had also sought ₹10 lakh for maintenance in this regard.” However, despite meetings with officials, nothing materialised and the project seems to have been put on the back burner, he said.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Priyank Kharge said he did not have any information on the proposal that had been submitted by the trust.
“The government cannot interfere in matters pertaining to a private museum. However, if the trust comes up with a fresh proposal, we will look into it,” he said.