The timing is serendipitous because the museum, a World Heritage Site, is celebrating its centenary this year.
The jury applauded the “heroic” CSMVS project which is “part of the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai World Heritage property in India. ” It praised the restoration of “a major civic institution in the historic city of Mumbai” and said, “Impressive in its scale, the project addressed extensive deterioration through well-informed architectural and engineering solutions, overcoming major challenges during the pandemic. Executed to the highest level of technical excellence, the project sets a standard for the conservation of World Heritage monuments in India and beyond. ”
CSMVS tops the list of 13 projects from six countries –Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Nepal and Thailand –which received awards. The jury reviewed 50 entries from 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Four awards went to India. The Stepwells of Golconda in Hyderabad won the Award of Distinction, while Domakonda Fort in Telangana, and Mumbai’s own Bycullarailway station received the Award of Merit.
This recognition is a hat tip to the minds that conceive, execute and fund heritage restoration in Mumbai. Conservation architect Vikas Dilawari restored the Grade 1 monument. It is his 18th UNESCO heritage award.
The museum’s director of 16 years, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, has presided over the transformation of this museum into a worldclass facility. And TCS Foundation funded the Rs 25 crore project.
Mukherjee said, “We are all very pleased by this award. It is like a centenary gift to the city. We began planning restoration in 2019. We started theproject in October that year. But the lockdown stalled work for eight months. Fortunately the museum was closed to visitors for 18 months, which gave us space to work. We completed in time for our centenary on January 10, 2022. ”
Dilawari said, “As conservation architect, my job was to follow the principle of secondman in respecting the first person’s creation and upgrading it in the same way (the original architect) George Wittet would have done. ” The pandemic was a difficult time with labour migrating. “But amid this difficulty too, we used the time to do most difficult works in the interiors, like the dome, as visitor entry was stopped. ”