Durbar Hall, From crumbling walls to a world-class gallery

Over the years, several stories have been portrayed at the Durbar Hall art gallery in the form of paintings, sculptures and art installations. The walls of the gallery bring to life the imaginations and creations of kids, amateurs and veteran artists of the country, with no bias. The Durbar Hall art gallery, the time-honoured space for art communities, has until now gone through two major renovations—one in 1998 by the Lalithakala Akademi, and the latest by the Kochi Biennale Foundation.

Before the government handed over the Durbar Hall to the Akademi, it had changed hands several times, which led to mismanagement and overuse. Heritage buildings that date back over 100 years fall under the Archaeology Department and their norms are to be followed while renovating the typical Indian royal residence. The renovation process was thus entrusted to the Centre for Science and Technology for Rural Development (COSTFORD), Thrissur, under the guidance of the noted architect, T M Cyriac.

Phase 1

The Durbar Hall, constructed over 100 years ago, experienced severe wear and tear over time. Thus was initiated the historic renovation of the building in 1998 by the Lalithakala Akademi. During this renovation, the entire floor of the building was redone with marble, replacing the Italian mosaic tiles. The crumbling walls were revamped and irrelevant structures that disturbed the space were removed. Opening up of the enclosed verandahs gave it more space and improved the look and feel of the area as a whole. And finally, Durbar Hall regained its royal elegance with a brand-new feel to it.

Phase 2

The second major revamp of the Durbar Hall art gallery was lead by the Kochi Biennale Foundation; the organisers of the ambitious international exhibition of contemporary visual arts, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The purpose of the renovation was not just giving the art gallery a modern look, but converting it into an exclusive exhibition space of international museum standards. After months of brainstorming and consulting with world-class experts, the renovation was planned and executed with dedication.

The highest standards by specialists in conservation, lighting and climate control were followed in the process, which transformed Durbar Hall art gallery into a topnotch exhibition expanse. The recently renovated art gallery is now equipped with an imported film projector, an adjustable LED lighting system that focuses attention on the exhibits, and almost every possible feature that an international exhibitor demands in a venue.

The new-look Durbar Hall art gallery, with its amazingly artistic atmosphere, will definitely serve as a community gallery for the local as well as the international audience.

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