LAHORE – In order to get them trained in oil painting conservation for the purpose to restore Sadequain’s Mural, the Lahore Museum is sending two artists—an officer of the museum and one freelancer painter—to India, officials told TheNation.

The officials said a restoration and exhibition officer of the museum Uzma Usmani and a freelancer painter Mumtaz Hussain are being sent to India on the recommendations of Technical Committee for the Restoration of Sadequain’s Mural. The committee comprises Saleema Hashmi (chairperson of the committee), National College of Arts Principal, Niyyar Ali Dada, Director Lahore Museum Humaira Alam, Shahnawaz Zaidi, Noshaba Anjum and Ghulam Mustafa had decided to send the artists for training to India, the official said and added that the Museum had been allocated funds of Rs 25 million for conservation of the mural. He said the two would leave for India within a week where they would get training of oil painting conservation in the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Delhi. He said after the three-month training course, they would be able to start conservation work on the mural. The official revealed that Lahore Museum was spending an amount of Rs 1.4 million on the training of the two artists.

The mural, tilted ‘Evolution of Mankind’ consists of 48 canvas panels, each of six feet by eight feet is in storage currently. The mural had been adorned on the ceiling of the Miniature Painting gallery of the museum since 1973. With the passage of time, it was damaged due to exposure to the sun and partially by termite attacks. It was dismantled in 2010 by two Indian experts, Srikumar Menon and Mahindra Singh Gill and since then it has been put in the storage wrapped in polythene.

Experts believe that the mural would take at least five years to be conserved. They said long time storage can further decay the mural. They also suggested that a replica of the priceless mural could be prepared and put on the ceiling of the gallery. It would be batter to put the mural on any wall in spite of ceiling, they further suggested.

However, the Museum official said that there was no fear of further harm to the mural in storage. They said the suggestion of making replica is already under consideration.

They further said that if the board of directors of Lahore Museum approved the suggestions of preparation of replica, it could be prepared in very short time. “It is not so much costly as we have also soft images,” they added.

It is pertinent to mention here that the visitors of Lahore Museum have been deprived of since 2010 to see this state of the art.