|Above Left: Lost in the 1934
earthquake, the wooden benches in front of the palace have been
reconstructed, providing a welcome resting place for the elders of
the local community. The square in front is again free from motor
traffic after many years.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is a great privilege
to say a few words at this august occasion - just as it was the greatest
privilege of my professional life to see this palace regain its
historical beauty - over a span of almost 15 years.
With the lighting of a
sacred lamp in front of Lord Vishnu, to whom this shrine is dedicated,
His Majesty the King has honoured an ancient tradition of invoking the
blessing of the Divine to such works of man, and at
each new beginning.
And a new beginning it
is, in the cyclical nature of time, to use this building as a museum,
and to display some of the finest art treasures of Nepal in a palace
which once was the residence of the Kings of Patan. It has been used for
other purposes in the meantime, and only ten years ago, the back wing of
this courtyard still was part of a public school (I know some of our
distinguished guests who first came here when they were schoolboys).
There is an old
inscription on that stone tablet over there which is dated more than a
thousand years ago, and which indicates that this site was a centre of
royal power already before the Malla dynasties. But even earlier than
that, a Buddhist monastery must have been located here, according to the
still living tradition of a public ritual which every year places a
Buddha image in front of the golden door, and thus recalls the ancient
sanctity of this place.
|Patan Museum (Keshav Narayan Chowk), drawing
by Thomas Türtscher, 1989
has neither recorded the architects and master craftsmen who created
this building, nor the artists who created the treasures now in the
galleries inside. But even if their names will remain unknown, their
work is now honoured and accessible as part of the cultural heritage of
That this result was
possible–and at such quality–we owe foremost to the descendants of
these Nepalese artisans whose craftsmanship has been passed down through
generations. To name only two of the project's many carpenters and
masons and at the same time to honour them all: Tulsi Silakar from
Bhaktapur was the project's head carpenter and wood carving artist for
many years, and Purna Maharjan from Patan was the head mason.
Next in line to be
honoured are Thomas Schrom, construction and project manager for six
years, and Suresh Shrestha, our main project assistant. They were
personally responsible not only for each object installation but also
for the graphic design, layout and production of all museum information
While they did all this
physical and visual work, the scientific "brain" behind the
museum's exhibition concept was the eminent historian of Nepalese
cultural anthropology, Dr. Mary Slusser of America's Smithsonian
Institution. To her we owe the tremendous task of selecting the exhibits
from existing national collections and of providing the abundant
information for each object and for each of the galleries.
One particular section
of the museum was prepared by Dr. Niels Gutschow, giving insight into
one of the world's most mystical architectural symbols, the Buddhist
chaitya or stupa.
section, curated by James Giambrone, demonstrates the traditional metal
crafts and techniques of "repoussé" sculpting and of the so
called "lost wax" casting process for which the many workshops
of Patan are famous.
However, none of all
this would have been possible without the support of our home agency,
the Institute for International Cooperation in Vienna and without our
friends and partners in the Department of Archaeology here. In
particular I would like to honour the continuous encouragement of its
Director General, Dr. Shaphalya Amatya and his unfailing trust in our
Finally, an homage is
due to Professor E. Sekler: once, for the very personal reason that he
was one of my eminent teachers in architectural history in Vienna long
ago. And, secondly, because it was Prof. Sekler who, some 20 years ago,
persuaded our Government to renovate this palace with bilateral Austrian
assistance. Thus Eduard Sekler is the true "spiritus rector"
of this project.
Thank you all. Namaskar!
--- address by Götz
Hagmüller at the Museum’s inauguration
|Patan Durbar Square as seen from the South.
Engraving after a photograph by Gustave le Bon, 1885
In 1982 this
significant project of bilateral technical cooperation with His
Majesty’s Government of Nepal was approved by the Austrian government,
entrusting the Institute of International Cooperation (IIZ) with project
implementation. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal Department of
Archeology, the government agency responsible for cultural preservation,
has acted as the key partner agency for this endeavor.
What started as a
modest conservation scheme to repair the north wing of the venerable
Patan Palace grew steadily over the years to encompass plans for the
rehabilitation of the entire palace compound including the north-east
wing and the adjacent palace garden. In parallel, adaptive reuse plans
for the complex grew to include a new museum by 1986 and by 1992 the
necessity for rethinking the institutional and operational set-up of
this museum was identified. Institution-building, including the
development of semi-autonomous, income generating, and sustainable
activities thus became a new project focus. In 1996 the Patan Museum
Board as the museum’s governing body was legally established.
transformation over fifteen years thus brought together cultural and
development issues in a compelling and self-reinforcing manner.
We are particularly
grateful to our Nepalese counterpart institutions, the Department of
Archaeology and the Patan Museum Board, for their enthusiastic
contributions, support and counsel. Their key inputs, participation, and
readiness to take up new ideas were all-important to the success of this
IIZ wishes to express
its gratitude to all colleagues and contributors, particularly to the
staff members responsible for project conception, administration and
implementation. Special thanks go to Gertrude Leibrecht in Vienna and to
Götz Hagmüller, Thomas Schrom and Ludmilla Hungerhuber in Nepal. Their
commitment and untiring efforts made it possible not only to conceive
and develop these project goals, but also to achieve them in an
As an essential and
continuously encouraging link between Austria and Nepal, we acknowledge
the support of the Austrian Embassy, New Delhi.
Furthermore, IIZ is
grateful for the ongoing confidence of the Austrian Government in their
stewardship and development of such projects. We were not only allowed
great freedom to develop new project paradigms, but could also count on
official and financial support for successful implementation.
Director of the Institute of International Cooperation (IIZ)