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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Kannimara Public Library Chennai

Kannimara Library Front View
Connemara Public Library at Chennai is the State Central library. This library is one of the 4 National depository libraries which are receiving a copy of all books, news papers and periodicals published in India free of cost. This library is also functioning as the information Centre for UNESCO since 1956. Connemara Public Library is rendering useful service by having separate divisions for Reference, Text Books, Periodicals, Bibliography, Indian Languages and English Books.

The proposal for a museum in Madras was mooted by the Madras Literary Society in 1846 AD and Sir Henry Pottinger, the then Governor, obtained the sanction of the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London.

In January 1851 AD, Dr. Edward Balfour, Medical Officer of the Governor's Security was appointed as the First Officer in charge of the Government Museum. The announcement in the Fort St. George Gazetteer dated 29th April 1851 AD contained the first statement regarding the opening of the Madras Government Museum. The Government Museum or else called as the Central Museum was started in the College of Fort St. George, in the property of the present office of the Director of Public tutoring, on College Road. The college had been recognized in 1812 AD and made a significant involvement to the development of South Indian Languages. The Museum was started in the first floor of the college with the 1100 geological specimens of the Madras Literary Society. It gradually developed and extended under the supervision and management of a succession of directors.

As the building was in a falling down condition, the Museum’s supervisor, Dr. Balfour advocated shifting it to another building.

In December 1854 AD, it was shifted to a building named the Pantheon, also known as the Public Rooms or meeting Rooms, where the elite of the city met.Government Museum Egmore Chennai

The building was being utilized for banquets, balls and impressive performance from the last decade of the 18th Century. The estate of the Pantheon was the property of Hall Plummer, civil servant and public works contractor who consequently, in 1793 AD, assigned the foundation to a Committee of 24, which keeping up the public amusements in the city at that time. In 1821 AD, the Committee sold the main house and middle garden space to E.S. Moorath, a rich Armenian merchant, who in turn, sold it back to the Government in 1830 AD, for Rs.28,000. The property was formerly 43 acres in coverage and expanded from Casa Major Road to the current Police Commissioner’s Road, and it was flanked by the Pantheon Road and Halls Road.

The Public Library was ongoing in 1853 AD. It was opened to the public in June 1862 AD. The building of the library and lecture hall began in December 1873 AD and finished in 1875 AD and officially opened by the Governor on March 16, 1876 AD. Captain Mitchell, controller, was dependable for amplification the library. He is regarded as the instigator of the Connemara Public Library.

It was properly opened on December 5, 1896 AD by Sir Arthur Ellibank Havelock, the then Governor and named after its progenitor, Lord Connemara, Governor of Madras. Designed by H.Irvin, the then Consulting designer to the Government of Madras, it had a wonderful hall with a grand reading room and gorgeous teak wood shelves.Connemara-library-rich-view

The library had an impressive tower 200 feet high, the uppermost in Madras at that time. But in March 1897 AD, the tower was demolished as it was establish to be in a shaky condition.

Libraries proscribed by different bodies which were in need of space were invited to reside in some segment of the Connemara Library. The Madras Literary Society Library was the first to function inside the Connemara Library until it was shifted in 1905 AD to its current building on College Road. The Madras University Library engaged the space vacated by the Madras Literary Society Library and functioned there until 1928 AD when it moved to Chepauk. The Oriental Manuscripts Library which was also housed in the Connemara Library till 1935 AD, moved into the University Buildings at Chepauk. Books were procured on behalf of the Victoria Technical Institute from the Dhanakoti Mudaliar bequest and still housed in the Fine Arts Section of the Connemara Public Library. Later the library came below the control of the Director of Public Instruction.

In 1854 AD, a young cheetah and tiger were held in reserve the museum and visitors came to see them from outlying places. As visitors to the museum improved, Dr. Balfour requested the Navab of the Carnatic, to send the wild animals he had to the museum. In September 1855 AD, a announcement was issued asking for the animals to be gifted to the Museum Zoological Gardens. By the first half year of 1856 AD, the Madras Museum had zoological garden with 360 animals. In 1863 AD, the City metropolis took over the Zoological Gardens and shifted it to the People’s Park.

The plans for the Madras Aquarium were pinched up in 1905-1906 AD by Dr. Thurston, the then supervisor of the Museum in discussion with a Committee. As this was the first Aquarium, methods of freshening, etc. found useful in Europe had to be correctly customized and adopted. The aquarium was opened to the public on October 21, 1909 AD and was very popular.

When the Fisheries Department came to be organized, the administration of the aquarium was taken over by it on April 1, 1910 AD. During 1942 AD, owing to the threat of a Japanese attack on Madras, the city was evacuated, the collections in the Aquarium were unnerved and it ceased to exist. Attempts to reconstruct the aquarium have not fructified.

The period 1941-1946 AD were bad years for the Museum. An enormous part of the buildings and the grounds had to be handed over for an ARP depository stationed in the Museum. The galleries had to be used as storerooms and therefore the showcases were detached. The most precious among the collections, such as bronzes, copper plate grants, preferred coins, relic caskets of Bhattiprolu, etc. were sent to places of safety. As the Amaravati sculptures were too heavy and hard to transport, the Government planned that they should be protected in situ in the Gallery.

In December 1896 AD, the Front Building (Anthropological Galleries) and The Museum Theatre were opened. The new expansion (main entrance) was built in 1939 AD in order to show stone sculptures, period-wise. The Government Museum took over the Victoria Technical Institute Building (constructed in 1909 AD) and named it as National Art Gallery and was thrown open to the public on November 27, 1951 AD.

The Museum renowned its Centenary on November 27, 1951 AD which was inaugurated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. In Order to display the beautiful rich collection of bronzes, a divide building was constructed in 1963 AD. In the same year, a new building block was added to the Chemical preservation Section to cope with the increasing work of conservation. A new building for the Birds Gallery was also opened in 1963 AD.

A part building for Contemporary Art was opened in January 25, 1984 AD and a new Children’s Museum building was opened in April 1988 AD. The Raja Ravi Varma paintings, which are measured as National Treasures, have been positioned in a gallery with Fiber Optic lighting. This system of lighting gives a impressive lighting effect. The Contemporary Art Gallery has been lit using Dichroic Halogen lamps. These lamps reveal back the heat. They also have a pleasant visual effect. These lighting methods are technology demonstrators and a first for museums in India at the time of their fitting in 2001 AD.

decorations-stained-glass-windows-in-kannimaraprominent collections in the Museum are the world famous South Indian bronzes, copper plates, the Dowleshwaram Amaravati sculptures, Tanjore (Thanjavur) armoury, inscriptions on stones hoard of gold coins of Raja Raja I and Kulothunga I, the Chengam hoard of copper coins, artifacts from the Megaliths of Adichanallur, the Bruce Foote Collection of ancient stone implements, Roman and other artifacts from the famous site of Arikamedu (near Pondicherry), the exquisite crystal reliquaries from the Bhattiprolu Stupa and the gigantic skeleton of the whale obtained on shore near Mangalore.