History of Gurusaday Museum
Gurusaday Dutt, who was the then District Collector of Bengal in the period around 1882 to 1941, started harbouring deep affection for folk crafts and rural arts of the country. Impressed by the rich cultural heritage of India, manifested through the diverse forms of arts and crafts, Dutt collected innumerable specimens of such artistic forms. It is believed that between the years 1929 and 1939, Gurusaday Dutt had managed to assemble more than 2325 rare specimens of folk arts and numerable heirlooms. Following Gurusaday Dutt's death in 1941, his rich collection was transferred to the Bengal Bratachari Society. This organization was founded by Dutt himself with a goal to conserve the roots of Bengali folk culture.
Dr.Bidhan Chandra Roy, the then Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal inaugurated the Gurusaday Museum in the year 1961. On 8th February, 1963, Professor Humayan Kabir, who was the then Union Minister of Education, opened the galleries for public viewing. The administration of the museum was passed on to the Gurusaday Dutt Folk Art Society in 1984, whose developmental activities were being financed by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. This sponsorship was arranged as per the conditions of an agreement which was held on 23rd May, 1984 between the Bengal Bratachari Society and the President of India. According to the item number 4 of the above mentioned agreement, all the work related to the maintenance of this Museum was to be taken care of by the Government of India. The Ministry of Textiles, National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum, Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) belonging to the period 1984-1985 to 1991-1992 enabled the release of this payment for the maintenance of the Museum.
Collections in Gurusaday Museum
Gurusaday Museum is a treasure trove of various kinds of ancient artefacts which portray the rural arts and folk crafts of the nation, along with specimens which reflect the old traditions and customs of India as well as Bengal. Renovation and restoration work are conducted on a regular basis, which involves the activities of binging of old books, lamination of manuscripts, deacidification, fumigation and others. A library has been created inside the premises of the Museum with a view to encourage students to develop a taste for reading, on subjects like folk arts and crafts and archaeology. Several magazines in the fields of rural arts are preserved in this library.
The museum consists of rare and marvellous specimens of folk arts and sometimes brand new specimens are also included in this collection. This collection is termed as the 'Exhibit of the Month'. This feature was imbibed into this Museum from the year 1984 onwards. Due to the lack of adequate space in the Museum, another building, known as the Annex Building is under construction under the sponsorship of the National Cultural Fund which has been received from the Department of Culture, Government of India and MPLADS Fund of Dr. Arjun Kumar Sengupta and the remaining from Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), New Delhi.
A garden surrounds the pond which is present within the grounds of the Museum, and contains several varieties of seasonal flowers. Local and foreign tourists admire this wonderful garden, which is taken care of by a gardener.
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