Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion (Mysuru, Karnataka)
The proposal for conservation of the historic Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion (Manasagangothri) along with its valuable ethnographic collections, jointly submitted by the University of Mysore and the Deccan Heritage Foundation, has been selected for funding by the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) following a competitive process where only 25 to 30 projects are selected from across the world. Established by the U.S. Congress in 2001, the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation aims to assist countries in preserving museum collections, ancient and historic sites, and traditional forms of expression. A formal announcement of the grant will be made shortly at a project launch to be held by the University of Mysore and the American Consulate, Chennai.
This historical mansion dates to 1901, when construction began on what was to be the residence of Jayalakshmi, sister of the Wodeyar ruler Krishnaraja IV. It remained a royal residence up until the 1950s, after which it was incorporated into the adjacent campus of the University of Mysore, which used it to house their Department of Archaeology and Anthropology. Funding from the Infosys foundation aided in the restoration and curation of objects in the ground floors of the mansion and two wings. In 2001, the mansion opened its doors to visitors as the city’s Folklore Museum. The Museum currently houses one of the most important collections of folkloric and ethnographic artefacts in Karnataka.
With its symmetrical plan, and part-circular arcades of Ionic and Corinthian columns, Jayalakshmi Vilas is one of the outstanding examples of the Classical European style adopted by Mysore architects. Interior apartments are arranged around two internal courtyards: one is roofed with a stained-glass dome that recalls a similar ceiling in the great palace in the middle of Mysuru. The mansion also preserves marble floors and ornate wooden columns. There was once an ornamental garden in front.
Time has taken its toll on Jayalakshmi Vilas. The roof over the west wing has partly collapsed and other portions of the mansion are now judged structurally unsafe. The AFCP grant will support the DHF in restoring and refurbishing the building. It will also help fund the cataloguing of the rich anthropological and ethnographic collections, estimated at around 14,000 artefacts, as well as the unique assemblage of manuscripts, documents and memorabilia linked with prominent figures of Kannada literature.
The DHF’s Conservation Management Plan will focus on sustainability of resources for the operation and maintenance of the building and its collections. A core objective of DHF’s JLV project is to demonstrate that an academic institution like the University of Mysore, located in a historic city like Mysuru, can develop a sustainable model of heritage management by institutionalising historic building maintenance and management. Building an in-house capacity within the University will be accomplished by:
- dovetailing various academic activities into heritage management
- preserving ethnographic collections in the museum and in other public and private collections in the community
- developing an infrastructure that will favour visitor access
- promoting partnerships with both Indian and overseas museums to assist scholars and curators in interpreting the collections.
University of Mysore
The US Consulate General in Chennai, through the Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP)
The DHF’s Conservation Management Plan will focus on sustainability of resources for the operation and maintenance of the building and its collections.
It will develop an infrastructure that will favour visitor access and promote partnerships with both Indian and overseas museums to assist scholars and curators in interpreting the collections.
The AFCP grant will support the restoration and refurbishment of the building. It will also help fund the cataloguing of the estimated 14,000 artifacts, as well as the unique assemblage of manuscripts, documents and memorabilia linked with prominent figures of Kannada literature