Museum hires chemists to preserve, restore broken-down historical idols

Kathmandu, February 17

Hanumandhoka Durbar Museum has hired former chemists of Department of Archaeology who lack proper knowledge of history and culture for the purpose of restoration and preservation of broken-down historical idols.

The chemists are currently busy restoring broken-down idols of deities inside Sundari Chowk and Mohan Chowk inside Hanuman Dhoka. People are now allowed to enter these squares without permission from the museum authorities. The HDDM office stated chemists were also allowed to remake broken parts of idols and statues.

Facial features of as many as seven idols have been remodeled by the chemists, who said that they were neither artisans nor historians. The chemists also said that had fixed and remodeled as many as 100 idols in the museum.

According to museum officials, some of the statues here are believed to have been made in the seventh and eighth centuries.

Historians said the remaking of historical idols even by the professionals could not be allowed. The museum, however, has allowed chemists to restore the idols without any research.

Historian Mukunda Raj Aryal said remodeling of statues could not be allowed without consulting historian and experts. “Even artisans cannot not be allowed to remodel historical idols,” historian Aryal said.

Similarly, historian Kasi Nath Tamot said idols in the museum belonged to the Licchavi era and remodeling them should not be allowed. “Every minute details on the statues have a story to tell about the time they were built. So remolding them without proper information is neglecting history,” Tamot added.

The chemists have been remodeling the idols using stone powder mixed with permanent sticking substance called epoxy resin. The redesigned features on the idols looked less realistic in comparison to other idols.  The chemists were earlier hired by the museum to preserve clothes worn by Shah kings that remained in neglect after the 2015 earthquakes. The chemists had also restored idols that were damaged or disfigured in the earthquakes in the museum.

Executive Director of Hanumandhoka Durbar Museum Aruna Nakarmi said since the chemists had already worked to fix the broken parts of the idols, they were allowed to remodel the statues.