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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A little museum, holding big dreams

Off the Andheri highway is the most unexpected place to find a museum. But there it is nestled in a nook on the dusty road to the All India Trust of Local Self Government.

The Aai (mother) museum showcasing a collection of 100-year-old brass, wood and bone artifacts gathered from Maharashtra is dedicated to motherhood and all the objects that speak of the feminine mystique.

The museum gets its soft launch in April and Vithal Kamat, managing director of the Ecotel Hotel chain, is quite excited, but he would have loved a bigger space.

“I have begged the MSRDC for a space under the Vakola flyover, and they ignored me for three years. Now we have finally got a place off the highway. It may not be enough to showcase my vast collection but at least it's a start,” says Kamat seated at the Ecotel Orchid Hotel, near the domestic airport.

One wonders why he didn’t decide to open the museum at the hotel itself since there doesn’t seem to be a dearth of space there. “I could and that is a project that I might look at when we launch our heritage hotels. But the idea of this museum is to reach out to second and third generation of our Indian youth through antiquity. The museum needs to be made accessible which is why I wanted to involve the government,” says Kamat.

The museum will charge only Rs 10 to 20 as entry with a discount for students, and is indeed stuffed to its full capacity with showcases that house various objects de art from our hoary past. From every day objects like brass utensils, quaint vermicelli and chakli makers, coconut graters, antique locks and old lanterns to delicately carved objects like jewellery boxes, beetle nut cutters decorated with Mithuna couples and exquisitely carve surmai and sindoor boxes.

To use Kamats words, “Every human being should pay back to mother hood and their motherland and these objects are a testimony to yesterday’s lifestyle.”

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