Pune: A jeweler’s collection turned into a museum of art and culture near the backwaters of Khadakwasla

For 25 years, Ajit Gadgil, founder of jewelers PN Gadgil & Sons, has carefully collected a range of jewellery, paintings, sculptures, textiles, lamps and other objects. From rare works by MF Hussain, Raja Ravi Verma and Jamini Roy to exquisite silver coins, old vinyl records, vintage movie posters and advertisements, Gadgil has amassed them all.

And now his collection has been transformed into a museum of art and culture. Spread over eight acres next to the scenic backwaters of Khadakwasla in Kudje, the Zapurza Museum will be inaugurated by flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia on May 19 (Thursday) and will open to the public later this week.

Gallery of lamps at the Zapurza Museum of Art and Culture. (PhotoExpress)

“The collection stems from the passion I had doing what I do. Your perspective on how you look at things changes when art is in the family. I wanted to create a space for the collection where people can come and see the wealth of artistry that our artisans from across the country have to offer and enjoy it,” said Gadgil.

The museum was designed by Shirish Beri of Kolhapur and built in four years. It has eight galleries, a merchandise retail space, an indoor auditorium and an outdoor amphitheater, overlooking the backwaters of Khadakwasla and Singhad Fort. Each of the galleries will showcase an array of Gadgil’s collections – paintings, sculptures, prints, lamps, silver works and textiles. Some of them have been reserved for artists from the city and Maharashtra.

“A museum is a very westernized culture that we acquired after the colonization of India. The Zapurza Museum is an attempt to return to our roots and present an immersive experience to people who visit it,” said art curator Raju Sutar.

Entrance to the Zapurza Museum of Art and Culture. (PhotoExpress)

Sutar said the gallery dedicated to the print will feature a white wall with a black dot like ink on the printed papers. Meanwhile, the one showcasing the collection of lamps will begin with a ray of white light on a black background and take visitors on a journey that humans have taken with light over the years.

Sutar added that they plan to offer a range of courses and internship programs for interested individuals and researchers. “Topics such as art appreciation, art economy, block printing, Raja Ravi Verma’s oleography technique, embroidery, theater and sound printing will be covered by invited experts. The residential arrangements here will also allow us to organize camps and workshops for people. We also plan to reach architecture, art and design students who can benefit from these programs,” he said.

Textile curator and designer Vinay Narkar said the textile section of the museum will showcase the state’s traditional Paithani sarees and shelas. “The idea is to bring out textile art. We acquired the pieces from private collectors or families with a rich textile heritage. As the parts are delicate, we have optimized their exposure to light, air and humidity. Not only do we preserve the pieces, but we also bring back the lost drawings, especially from the Deccan,” he said.

Silver jewelry gallery at Zapurza Museum of Art and Culture. (PhotoExpress)

Narkar informed that Zapurza is also planning to host its first ever World Textile Art (WTA) biennial in India in October later this year.

The Zapurza team plans to provide a shuttle system for art lovers in Deccan and Swargate. They also informed that until June 30, the entrance for visitors will be free.

Zapurza Festival

As part of its launch, the Zapurza Museum is holding a four-day festival from May 19-22. It will feature performances by Sandeep Khare, Vaibhav Joshi, violinist Atulkuamr Upadhye, Vijay Ghate and singer Rahul Deshpande and theater acts by Natak Company and the team of the International Association for the Performing Arts and Research (IAPAR ).


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