Kolkata: Kolkata's iconic monument Victoria Memorial Hall is being given a makeover and will soon turn into an open-space cultural centre besides allowing access to hidden parts of the iconic marble edifice.
The makeover will make the British era structure a unique combination of heritage, architecture and museum, VMH curator Jayanta Sengupta told a news agency.
The authorities have decided to allow visitors access to all areas of Victoria Memorial Hall and make cultural events a regular affair on its campus.
Sengupta told a news agency that as part of a Rs 60-crore renovation and modernisation programme funded by the Union Ministry of Culture, the authorities are carrying out a preventive conservation of the heritage structure of the British era.
"There is a massive cleaning exercise going on on the outside surface for the last few months and we hope to complete it by this October," he said.
He said pollution is affecting the white marble structure and Fuller's earth was being used to clean it as it does not cause any chemical reaction.
The exterior surface of the architectural marvel is made of Makrana marble, the same variety as in Taj Mahal.
Parts of the architectural beauty inside the monument are now hidden under a false ceiling and false walls which are used as galleries.
"The windows and the large red sandstone walls were hidden so far. But now you will be able to see it as we will hang paintings on glass walls," the curator said.
Victoria Memorial, as VMH is commonly known, was conceived by Lord Curzon after the death of Queen Victoria. It was designed by famous British architect Sir William Emerson in Indo-Saracenic Revival architectural style. Construction began in 1906 and was thrown open to the public in 1921.
The grand edifice set among its emerald green garden is a must see for all tourists coming to the city.
Visitors now have limited access to the first floor but after the renovation they would be allowed to use a passage which gives them a bird's eye view of the sprawling campus spread over 64 acres, Sengupta said.
Administrative offices which had blocked off large portions of the ground and first floors have now been shifted into enclosures set up in the garden.
"We are creating space for new galleries to accommodate our 33,000-strong collection," he said.
The curator plans to convert VMH into an open-access cultural space where cultural events, film screenings, music concerts can take place on a regular basis. It already hosts the Kolkata Literary Meet each year in January.
"Our target is to complete the entire modernisation programme by March 2017," he added.