Mumbai's David Sassoon Library Reopens After More Than A Year

The historic David Sassoon Library and Reading Room in Kala Ghoda, Mumbai, reopened to the public on June 3 following a 16-month renovation project.
The David Sassoon building is designated as a grade 1 heritage structure
The David Sassoon building is designated as a grade 1 heritage structure

The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room is a Grade I Heritage building in Mumbai's Kala Ghoda Art District and one of the oldest educational institutions in the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of the UNESCO World Heritage zone.It was built in 1867 and is one of the earliest educational institutions in Mumbai's Victorian Gothic and Art Deco ensembles, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The library reopened to the public on June 3 after being closed for 16 months for renovations.

The JSW Foundation and the ICICI Foundation worked together to restore the heritage library. Sangita Jindal, JSW Foundation Chairperson. worked with India's premier conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah to complete the restoration project which was funded by the JSW Foundation, the ICICI Foundation in collaboration with Herm&egraves, the Kala Ghoda Association, the consulate general of Israel in Mumbai (David Sassoon was Jewish), the M K Tata Trusts, and others.

The library has held on to its antique switches and chandeliers, and a large portion of the original Victorian-era Minton tile flooring. Each room's Minton flooring patterns have been expertly recreated. The rehousing of about 30,000 volumes in five languages English, Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi, and Kannada was a prominent component of this significant restoration operation. Some of these books are ancient and have been in the library for quite some time. The books now line the floor-to-ceiling shelves in the first-floor reading area, evoking the famous university libraries of Cambridge and Princeton.

The next phase of the project will focus on restoring the library's grounds and gardens, which are one of the few green open spaces in this historic district.

The David Sassoon building, designated as a grade 1 heritage structure, was constructed between 1867 and 1870. Baghdadi Jew and philanthropist David Sassoon, as well as the general public and the government, contributed to its funding. Architects J Campbell and DE Costling designed it in Victorian Gothic and Art Deco styles. The building was constructed to house the Bombay Mechanics Institution, which had been in operation in the city since 1847. In 1873, it was renamed the Sassoon Mechanics Institute after housing the institutions. And iIn 1923, it was transformed into the David Sassoon Library.

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