VARCA: In an age when local patriots complain of heritage homes
being sold out to tourists and corporate entities, here's a story
of a Goan who began picking up lost and overlooked elements of
heritage to construct a memoir of technological evolution.
San Thome Museum, located at Varca in South Goa, will take you 'Back in Time' to the ancestors of modern inventions and visitors believe that this venture will contribute immensely to the tourism sector.
Located in the serene backdrop of the coastal village of Varca, the museum of antiques and technical evolution contains a vintage collection of artefacts which are repaired and restored to reflect a gallery type presentation. Thomas Antonio da Costa, the brain behind the project, claims that the museum is more of an information and study centre for school and college students who are not aware of the advances made in the field of recorded music, recorded movies, still photography, typewriting, calculus, illumination and much more.
Being an electrical engineer himself, he would get fascinated by the fast-paced research and development taking place in field of science and electronics. "The young are so obsessed with their present-day gadgets that they are unaware of the evolution of the various features in the 'tablet'. I thought I must bridge the gap between generations by exhibiting these items and by bringing back the antique of the yore, the elders in our society have felt the sense of nostalgia," da Costa said, adding that many tourists and locals alike have shown tremendous support ever since the inaugural on January 19.
San Thome museum has working collection artefacts belonging to different fields of technology. The 'Remington 10' (1919), a World War I era typewriter, is a must see along with the 'Imperial 58' (1940), a World War II era typewriter - a similar model is housed in the National Museum of Victoria, England. It also has the hand cranked 'Diana 1949' gramophone also known as Columbia Phonograph, besides the vintage working model of Akai X-355D (28.5kg) and Akai GX-255D (16.5 kg) spool tape player.
'Time keepers' is another section of old vintage clocks. There is also a section that houses the silent movie projector and a black and white movie projector, while 'pixel-less' still cameras constitute the photography section. The German manufactured 'Grand Piano Schiedmier', claimed to be one of the only known working pianos in Asia, fitted with ivory keys from the 1880s, adds to the grandeur of the museum.
There is also a corner for crockery, where a rarely seen 'garafao', antic bottles, cheers goblets are placed for viewing. Wine bottles belonging to World War I army barracks with a safety lock has a tale to tell to every curious visitor.
Da Costa has been working on this project for the last many years. "I collected these items by advertising on newspapers, answering to newspaper classified ads, through my professional career travels to various parts of the world and also visiting the scrap yards. Most of these were literally junk pieces which I restored to a working and presentable condition," he said.
The proprietor has also paid attention to the architecture of the building that is constructed by keeping Goa's Portuguese heritage in mind. The house that hosts the museum has old and discarded shell windows (Placuna Placenta locally known as Mendios) and antique wood which gives the building a feel of Portuguese architecture. Placuna Placenta shell windows were used as a substitute for glass in Goa's Portuguese era.
The museum is certainly loaded with heaps of interesting facts relating to traditional artefacts and serves as a hangout spot for the techno-geeks, both young and old. Da Costa stresses that is necessary to preserve these yesteryear items in order to hold together our rich cultural heritage. "These ancient artefacts are rich in historical tales of evolution, which help us connect with the past and realize how standard and quality of life has improved over the years." The museum hopes to serve as an alternative mode of education to books prescribed in the syllabus to aspiringyoung techies in the state.