The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with US$ 13 billion JSW Group’s social development arm, JSW Foundation, to restore and conserve the iconic David Sassoon Library at Kala Ghoda in Mumbai. According to the MOU, JSW Foundation shall extend Technical & Financial support towards Conservation, Restoration of the iconic library. JSW has joined hands with Hermes, Kala Ghoda Association, The Consulate General of Israel in Mumbai and others to raise funds for this restoration project. The restoration of David Sassoon Library is expected to be completed in 2023.
Commenting on its MOU to restore the iconic library, Sangita Jindal, Chairperson of JSW Foundation said, “We are pleased to join hands with the team of the David Sassoon Library, Hermes, The Kala Ghoda Association, The Consulate General of Israel in Mumbai and other generous donors to restore and conserve one of the oldest libraries in the city. During the last two decades, the David Sassoon Library has welcomed me and millions of people- especially during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. This restoration MOU is our way to reciprocate and give this iconic library its due as a primary institution of learning in the heart of Mumbai’s art and heritage precinct. The Library’s proximity to the other educational and cultural institutions like the Elphinstone College, CSMVS Museum and other art galleries makes it the fulcrum of Mumbai’s educational and cultural movement. We will be collaborating with India’s most-respected Heritage & Conservation Architect Abha Narain Lambah for this restoration project.”
According to Hemant Bhalekar, President of the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room Committee, “We have been waiting for this day for a long time. Our entire committee and its members are happy that the library building will be restored to its original glory. We would like to thank all the donors specifically Mrs Sangita Jindal and Mrs Abha Lambah for taking this initiative to conserve and restore David Sassoon to Library and Reading Room.”
According to Abha Narain Lambah Founder & Principal Architect at Abha Narain Lambah Associates, “I am delighted to work on this project with Mrs Sangita Jindal and the David Sassoon Library team to restore the magical legacy of this iconic library. The David Sassoon Library is among the oldest landmarks in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Victorian & Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai. The conservation plan will comprehensively cover architectural and interior design of the library for restoring its interiors and exteriors including rebuilding of the original sloping roof over the library, restoring the façade and interior spaces and undertake the conservation of its historic interiors.
The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room is a Grade 1 heritage building located in Mumbai city’s historic art precinct at Kala Ghoda. It is one of the oldest surviving libraries in Mumbai And among the first buildings to be built at the Kala Ghoda in 1870. It was designed by Gostling and Campbell in buff coloured trachyte (Malad stone) and limestone which gives the building its distinct character. The Victorian Neogothic-styled structure was originally built as a museum and library of mechanical models and architectural designs. It was principally used by a group of foreign mechanics working at the mint and government dockyard. The Institute was renamed in 1938 as the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room after the activities of the institute diminished. The Museum and Library was named after Sir David Sassoon, a Baghdadi Jew merchant, who funded the construction of the iconic monument.
In current times, the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room is a host to young students and senior citizens alike. The entrance lobby of the library doubles up as an art gallery, extending from the Jahangir Art gallery across the street. The David Sassoon library gardens are amongst the very few green open spaces in the historic district and is a welcome retreat from the busy public streets. The garden is a landmark venue for the annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.