Mysuru, Jan 4, 2024: The U.S. Mission in India and its implementing partner University of Mysore officially announced the U.S.-funded conservation efforts for the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion Folklore Museum in Mysuru, Karnataka on Thursday, January 4, 2024.
This project, funded through the U.S. government’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), supports the conservation of the West Wing of the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion Folklore Museum building and over 6,500 artifacts from across the state of Karnataka. The University of Mysore is partnering with the Deccan Heritage Foundation to lead the restoration and conservation efforts which are expected to be completed by 2025.
Announcing the AFCP grant to the University of Mysore, U.S. Consul General Chennai Christopher W. Hodges said, “The conservation project at the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion Folklore Museum is yet another testament to America’s friendship and respect for the people of India and its rich cultural heritage. Once completed, I know the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion and Folklore Museum will continue to delight future generations of Indians and international visitors.”
He added, “Widespread community engagement is at the heart of all of our AFCP projects. The U.S. Mission India AFCP grant of $300,000 to the University of Mysore is the second largest AFCP grant awarded in India in the last twenty years. The AFCP project in Mysuru will bring together conservation and museum experts, architects and designers, and skilled craftspeople – all with a shared passion for preserving and protecting India’s cultural heritage in Karnataka.”
Prof. N.K. Lokanath, Vice Chancellor, University of Mysore expressed his happiness that the U.S. Consulate had identified the University of Mysore to receive the AFCP award. He said that the “restored Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion Folklore Museum will not only add to the tourist attractions of Mysuru but will serve as a center for research and higher learning for scholars focused on ethnographic traditions of Karnataka.” He also noted that the University of Mysore had received another grant from the U.S. Consulate General Chennai in 2012 towards the conservation of the Oriental Research Institute (ORI) and its priceless collection of 40,000 ancient palm leaf manuscripts and books. The restored ORI building was inaugurated by former U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma in 2015.
Deccan Heritage Foundation India Chairperson Ambassador Latha Reddy, stressing the importance of preservation of cultural heritage sites, said, “At Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, DHF envisions to establish best practices in architectural restoration and object preservation to create an inclusive polysemic museum that is sustainable in its operations.”
Located within the University of Mysore campus, Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion was built in 1905 as a residence for Maharajkumari Jayalakshammani, eldest daughter of Mysore Maharaja Chamaraja Wadiyar X. The majestic building is designed in European Classical style and has four wings. The University of Mysore acquired the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion and its surrounding land in 1959 when K.V. Puttappa (popularly known as Kuvempu) was the Vice Chancellor to become a part of the sprawling Manasa Gangothri campus. The museum of folklore was set up by Dr. Javaregowda in 1969.
The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation is among the U.S. government’s most significant cultural initiatives abroad. In the past 20 years, the United States has partnered with India to support 24 AFCP projects totaling over $2.7 million. They include preservation of the famous Sunderwala Burj, Batashewala Mughal Tomb Complex, and the Arab Serai Complex Gateway within the UNESCO World Heritage site Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi; recording and transcribing endangered folk music of western Rajasthan’s Langa and Manganiyar communities; and the preservation of palm leaf manuscripts and rare books at the United Theological College in Bengaluru. Through AFCP, the United States demonstrates American leadership in the preservation of cultural heritage around the world, showing its respect for other cultures.
Photo caption: U.S. Consul General Chennai Christopher Hodges, University of Mysore Vice Chancellor Prof. N.K. Lokanath, and Deccan Heritage Foundation India Chairperson Ambassador Latha Reddy at the announcement of the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion Folklore Museum Preservation Project through Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation in Mysuru on January 4, 2024.