Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai (formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India)Abraham Joel worked with the director of the Museum Dr. Kalpana Desai and curatorial staff to design and establish a conservation center, a library, and a research facility. The objective of this project was to build one of the finest conservation research centers in the sub-continent equipped to care for the cultural heritage of the entire region. In 1988 Abraham Joel, as part of a team (Professors Larry Majewski, Donald Posner and Norbert Baer), visited India on behalf of the U.S. Department of State Indo-US Sub-commission and surveyed the European pictures at the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India now called the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS).
Posner recommended Richard Spear as the art historian to study the collection. From 1988 to 2000, Abraham Joel visited Mumbai working with director Dr. Kalpana Desai focusing on development and restoration of the east wing and allocation of space for the future restoration studios. In 1988, funds raised by Abraham Joel permitted Richard Spear to study the collection of 320 pictures. Mr. J.J. Bhabha, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the museum complimented Abraham Joel in a kind note of appreciation on May 17, 2001.
Work from 2001 to the 2007 was funded through various foundations with grants raised by the Museum and Abraham Joel in New York. After opening “windows” (sections where the surface dirt and discolored varnish layers were removed) Richard Spear in consultation with his colleagues made several significant attributions in the collection. The museum can now confidently claim for the first time pictures by Mattia Preti, Antonio Moro, Erasmus Quellinus, Jacob de Backer and many others.
To meet goals set by director Kalpana Desai and Abraham Joel, the museum acquired the following equipment:
- A custom-built Willard multi-functional suction table (for information and details visit www.willard.co.uk)
- A Willard motorized easel to accommodate large pictures
- Recommendations were made on a digital x-ray system to investigate a wide range of materials including paper, works on canvas and metal objects. The US built system recommended and received the approval of Dr. Gursharan Singh, Head, Isotope Applications Division at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) Mumbai. Discussions were underway with staff at BARC and Senior Curator Dilip Ranade on establishing a training program for the staff to operate the x-ray equipment and safety regulations for its installation within the conservation studio.
- Several pieces of investigative equipment were imported, for example, an infra-red viewer.
- A climate control system was installed and tested to be more than adequate. A room was converted into an exhaust chamber to accommodate the spraying of varnish or use as a room during treatment when employing certain solvents.
- Supplies imported from Europe and the US were in sufficient quantities to commence with the conservation of the European pictures.