Considering that some of the country’s most priceless stones are mounted in foreign museums and crowns, the Nizam’s Jewellery exhibition is an achievement for the GoI to have acquired it at a much-devalued price of Rs 218 crore. But it’s an achievement the country’s top institutions aren’t equipped to handle. For example, the National Museum, host to the 173-piece collection, will be turned into a virtual fortress, manned and regulated by men in khaki and metal detector doorways, during the entire six-week period of the exhibition. People queueing up to catch a glimpse of the legendary collection will get exactly half an hour to file past the bullet-proof glass tantaluses enclosing the sparklers. This half-hour of visual pleasure will come at a price of Rs 50 for Indians and Rs 500 for those holding foreign passports.
But the treasure has a way of causing sleepless nights. On June 28, as news of the collection’s arrival broke, it caused a security situation that was followed by clampdown orders on officials involved in the transfer. Delhi Police Joint Commissioners, no less, were asked to sniff and vet the jewel’s passage from the airport to an unknown destination when the trove arrived on June 30. Since their arrival in the city till the Department of Culture decided to release information a few days ahead of the exhibition, National Museum experts working on the collection were sworn to secrecy. Dr U. Das, assistant director general of the museum, attributed the silence to the threat perception.