A museum of cultural, religious and artistic values, mostly stolen from Nepal and brought them back are on display at the newly opened Itumbha Museum in Kathmandu. It was opened amidst a cultural function on Saturday. The Rubin Museum of Art operated New York, USA has supported Itumbaha Museum to being.
This comes after Rubin returned two artefacts in its collection back to Nepal. Among the returned artefacts, a wooden garland bearing Apsara (14th century) belonged to Itumbaha.
Following Rubin’s return of this object to Nepal, a partnership was developed with the Itumbaha Conservation Society.
The Rubin Museum of Art has contributed USD 20,000 for a three-room display and around 150 artefacts that have been documented are on display.
Itumbahal is the largest baha (Buddhist monastery courtyard) in the Kathmandu core area. It is a large court and there are four smaller courts in the west side. One of them is the main Itumbaha. The Baha itself has a collection of over 500 ancient objects .As per the tradition, in the week with full moon (starts from 11th day in the bright fortnight) in August every year Bahidyobwayegu or display of images of gods and other artefacts is conducted in the Bahas. Mainly Buddhist communities of aligned to different Bahas visit Bahas with playing cultural music instruments. Itumbaha is one the most visited places.
A controversy was stirred amid the opening of the museum where cultural experts and organisations involved in repatriating stolen heritage have been against the opening of a museum in Itumbaha.
Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign, released a press statement on July 27, stating it seeks full transparency from the Rubin’s Museum as to the results of its announced investigation into the accession of the Toran and Gandarbha. It also insisted that the Rubin’s Museum carry out an in-depth review of the provenance of its entire inventory, including items on display and in storage. Some other heritage advocacy organisations and experts also expressed disagreement on opening a museum in Itumbaha and doubt on the intentions of the Rubin’s Museum.
Moreover, it is clear that Itumbaha itself is a large collection of artefacts of religious and cultural values and has been continued its glory for centuries. This should not be influenced by external interests.