In a bid to ascertain the “genuineness” of identified heritage items in the city, the Chandigarh Administration has proposed to carry out “physical verification” of as many as ‘12793’ heritage items with the help of experts.
According to the inventory prepared by the UT Administration in the year 2012, Chandigarh has ‘12793’ heritage items designed by city’s creator French Architect Le Corbusier or his team associated with the founding and planning of the city in 1950s and 60s. There are 190 different categories of the heritage items including drawings, murals, models, tapestries, chairs, tables, among others.
As only three-member Chandigarh Heritage Inventory Committee, constituted by UT Administration was involved in the finalization of heritage inventory in the year 2011 and 2012, doubts looms over the “genuineness” of identified heritage items in the city.
Among various departments, the UT Government Museum and Art Gallery has possession of large number of heritage items including furniture, drawings, murals, models among others made by renowned architect Le Corbusier and his other associates. Besides, Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat, Punjab and Haryana Vidhan Sabha, Punjab and Haryana High Court also have huge stock of heritage furniture including chairs and tables.
And, even the later on established departments like Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) have huge stock of the heritage items, as per the inventory prepared by the Administration.The heritage protection cell under the Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee has now proposed to carry out “physical verification” of these heritage items.
“It has been proposed that several teams of experts should be constituted to ascertain the authenticity of heritage items and the process could be completed in three months time. The experts will visit all the Departments to check the authenticity of the items included in the heritage list. These teams would comprise of architects, faculty of Chandigarh College of Architecture, historians, experts from Government Museum and Art Gallery and others,” said a member of CHCC while talking to The Pioneer.
The CHCC member said that the entities including furniture, tapestry, drawings and other things, which were designed, made and used by city’s creator French architect Le Corbusier, his cousin Pierre Jeanneret and others associated with the founding and planning of Chandigarh in the 1950s and 60s, comes under the category of heritage items.
As the inventory of ‘12793’ heritage items has not been prepared by experts, there are doubts that many items including furniture are not “genuine” heritage belonging to the city, the member said. The Department of Urban Planning will take the final call on the proposal of carrying out the physical verification of heritage items, the member added.
Notably, the UT Administration had in the year 2014 sought Archaeological Survey of India’s assistance in establishing the “genuineness” of heritage items, identified during the finalization of heritage inventory made in 2011 and 2012 here. However, the ASI had turned down the Administration’s request for providing assistance in establishing the “genuineness” of heritage items, besides conducting preservation works.
Quoting “The Antiquities And Art Treasures Act, 1972”, the ASI had stated ‘Antiquities’ which have been in existence for not less than 100 years viz. sculptures in stone, terracotta, metals, ivory Painting in paper, wood, cloth, skin etc and manuscripts are covered under the Act while the heritage items in the city are less than 60 years old. Hence, the ASI will not be able to assist the Administration in conservation works of heritage belonging to Chandigarh, stated the letter.
At that time, the UT Administration had recommended that after identifying genuine heritage items, these heritage items should be given the status of heritage formally and tagged as ‘art heritage’.
Museum of heritage furniture proposed to be established
The UT Administration has proposed to convert the iconic press building in Sector 18 here into a museum for heritage furniture and vintage cars. It is proposed to keep all heritage items on the first floor of the press building. Also, it has been proposed to depute dedicated staff to conserve the heritage items and also, to curb their theft.
Notably, the Administration had ordered that the four-storeyed, glass-facade government printing press will stand closed following the directions of the Central Government. Built in 1953, the building has seen the city grow.
Auction of Chandigarh’s heritage items
In the past, renowned foreign auction houses have
shoveled in millions through the auction of city’s heritage items. New York-based auction house—Phillips de Pury and Company, Paris-based auction house—Artcurial, Paris-based auction house—Marseilles and many others have organized auctions of heritage items belonging to the city.
While the UT Administration had in the past taken up the matter with British Embassy and French Embassy to put an end to the auction of the drawings, sketches and furniture designed by Le Corbusier and his associate Pierre Jeanneret, many auction houses continued to put under the hammer lots of furniture designed by city’s creators.
Interestingly, famous American singer Kanye West had went on to credit the concrete light fixtures at Sukhna Lake as his muse when he was creating the 2013 album Yeezus, saying “this one Corbusier lamp was like my greatest inspiration”. Kanye West, who along with his celebrity wife Kim and her sister Kourtney Kardashian boast of over a dozen Jeanneret chairs and more.