25th July, 2004  Volume 11, Issue 2

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A helping hand for museum revamp

By Jamila Najmuddin 

HSBC in partnership with the Colombo National Museum has launched a programme to revamp the Anuradhapura and Pollonnaruwa galleries of the national museum.

At a ceremony held at the national museum's auditorium on Monday, July 19, HSBC Chief Executive Officer, Mark Humble presented a token cheque for Rs 6 million to Minister of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage, Vijitha Herath, in the presence of museum officials including Director, Colombo National Museum, Dr. Nanda Wickremasinghe.

The sponsorship of up to Rs.3 million per gallery will be utilised to revamp these two galleries, with the installation of light boxes and information panels to provide visitors with a brief background to the eras, as well as the inclusion of many more artefacts pertaining to each historical period.

Specialist treatment

The project will be supervised by Professor Leelananda Prematilleke with the assistance of a team of specialists from the Department of National Museums and the Postgraduate Institute of Archeology. Professor Pematilleke was responsible for organising the Pollonnaruwa museum, which has gained international fame for its design and layout. He has also organised the Museum of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy and the Dambulla museum of paintings.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Vijitha Herath said that HSBC is the first private institution to join the government's effort to cultivate a progressive culture and support a project that will serve as a positive example for the youth of our society.

The Minister also thanked HSBC for taking an exemplary initiative towards a national exercise and said that although it appeared to be supporting a cultural programme, the bank has indirectly contributed towards an economic development project.

Tributes to ages past

"Among the diverse facets of heritage education, I need not stress that the museums, and more importantly, the national museum, play a distinctive role in educating the public, irrespective of their age, about their past history and culture through tangible artefacts. It is a happy augur that this exercise has been expedited very much by a special event and that is the generosity shown by a leading bank in the country and overseas - the HSBC - in coming forward to finance two of the most important galleries, namely Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa," the Minister said.

The Minister also added that till recent times the national museum housed the cultural, ethnological and natural history collections under one roof, which has resulted in some confusion in the minds of the visitors. "As we all know, because of the skeleton of a whale that hangs over one section of the ceiling, the national museum was named 'Katuge', which term is used even today in common parlance. With the building of separate structures to house other sections, the original building is being used to display cultural artefacts. Yet it is imperative that these artifacts be arranged in a manner that would help the visitor understand Sri Lanka's heritage in a historical sequence," the Minister said.

Focus on local community projects

Also speaking at the ceremony, HSBC Chief Executive Officer, Mark Humble explained that as the 'world's local bank', HSBC believed in supporting projects that foster education and contribute towards making a meaningful difference to the local community. "HSBC's main aim is to help more people to appreciate Sri Lanka's rich past and especially to instill in our children an appreciation of the glory of past eras. We hope to inspire future generations to take this country to greater heights in their own time through an appreciation of the past - because we believe in sharing our success and caring for the communities we work in," Humble said.

Founded in 1877, the Colombo National Museum has a long and illustrious history as does HSBC, which also counts over 100 years in Sri Lanka, having opened for business in 1892.

At the ceremony Humble stressed that as the world's local bank, HSBC shared Sri Lanka's passion for its rich cultural heritage and hoped to nurture greater national pride with the sponsorship of these galleries.

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