Experts decry ‘hasty’ decision of converting Governor House into museum


–Govt took no proper measures, aspects of tourism in consideration

–Committee working on project lacks members with expertise in fields of archaeology, museums

–Authorities planning to shift Governor House to dilapidated Chamba House; would require at least Rs100 million for its restoration

LAHORE: The conversion of the Governor’s House into a museum has become a point of discussion among archaeology and museum experts, who believe it was a “hasty decision” by the government as no proper measures, civic sense and other aspects of tourism were adopted prior to the opening of the site for tourists.

The committee working to implement the decision of converting the place into a museum includes architect Nayyar Ali Dada, artist Rashid Rana, businessman Shamoon Sultan, architect and academician Omer Hassan, scientist Dr Faisal Khan, retired civil servant Omer Khan Afridi, designer Naeem Safi, visual artist Akram Dost Baloch, educationist Muneeza Hashmi, visual artist Adeela Suleman, architect Samar Ali Khan, heritage consultant Marvi Mazhar, Art Divvy Foundation Director Asma Rashid Khan and National History and Literary Heritage Division Secretary Engineer Amir Hassan.

Experts believe the committee lacks members with expertise in the field of museums and chances are bleak that it would perform well in the establishment of a museum or art gallery.

They said that museum experts should have been made a part of the committee so that proper information and techniques of establishing museums and tourism could be suggested to the government.

Experts also said they were distressed over the government’s decision, and in order to fulfill the “unrealistic” promises that it had made during election campaigns, the government was damaging national sites by opening them to the public without proper planning.


Meanwhile, sources told Pakistan Today that the government was planning to shift the Governor’s House to Chamba House that is located in a densely populated area. “The building is in ruins and at least Rs100 million would be needed for its restoration,” they added.

Sources further said that there were security lapses in shifting the Governor’s House elsewhere, especially in a densely populated zone, as it would lead to security threats and traffic congestion for the residents of the area.

They were of the view that much damage had already been done to the Governor’s House by opening it up for the public without proper planning and such important and sensitive places opened their doors to tourists only after taking proper measures and standard operating procedures elsewhere in the world.


Sources also said that opening a museum on 700 kanals of land, on which the Governor’s House spread, was an unrealistic approach and there would be a need to borrow artifacts to fill the galleries of the museum. “High ticketing would also be required if the expenses of such a large museum are to be met otherwise the government would have to reconsider its decisions soon.”

A member of the committee, Nayyer Ali Dada, while talking to Pakistan Today said, “The planning to convert the main building into a museum is underway. It will take some time for establishing the museum there. At present, the artifacts are also being gathered to be displayed in the museum. We will also take the un-displayed artifacts from Lahore Museum.”

Lahore Museum Additional Director Noshaba Anjum said that Lahore Museum would not let anything out of the museum. “We will not allow anything to be shifted from the museum as everything is documented and displayed here. We have not been contacted by anyone so far but we will not give away anything even if someone reaches out to us”, Noshaba added.

The owner of Faqir Khan Museum, Syed Faqir Saifuddin said that the committee formed to convert the Governor House into a museum did not fulfill the needs as it did not include any museum experts.

“A colonial history museum should be established at the Governor’s House and nothing else. The archival material, artwork, paintings, pictures and other items belonging to that era and especially of the East India Company should be displayed and people should be informed how they [British] ruled us.” Faqir Saif concluded.