Kolkata’s three iconic colonial buildings, the Currency Building, Metcalfe Hall and Belvedere House, which have been suffering from negligence for a long time, have now been completely resorted. Soon, these three structures will be turned into ‘vibrant cultural spaces’ in Kolkata. Indian PM Narendra Modi will re-dedicate these buildings to the people of Kolkata later this week in a function.
Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Mr. Singh called the initiative just a beginning. He also said that once the people of Kolkata get these buildings back, they’ll have their own cultural spaces. Calling these “right places at right locations”, he further said that people can organise an exhibition, theatre festival or a music festival at these places.
Let’s explore more about these buildings and their significance:
The Currency Building in Kolkata lies in the city’s Dalhousie region, and was built in the year 1833. The beautiful colonial building was designed in Italian style with Venetian windows. The building, till the year 1937, was home to the Reserve Bank of India. Later, people neglected it, and it was decided to demolish the building to construct a multi-level structure at the same place. But that did not happen as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) took over in 2002, and declared the building a protected monument.
As of now, the Building is geared up to host its first exhibition called Ghare Baire (meaning the world, the home and beyond’). It will be a take on the 18th to 20th century art in Bengal.
Another grand building that got restored for good is the Metcalfe Hall. This gorgeous colonial structure was built between 1840-1844 as a public library, and it features 30 Corinthian pillars. Situated just around 200 m away from the Currency Building, the hall was restored by early 2019. The building has an exhibition called Ami Kolkata, on the people of Kolkata.
The Belvedere House, situated inside the campus of the National Library, was also neglected for a long time. At one point of time, the building used to be home to the Governors of Bengal and the Viceroys of India. The building now, after restoration, features the paintings of Elizabeth Bruner, Santiniketan, as well as some old photographs of Kolkata by painters inclulding Raja Deen Dayal.