World Monuments Fund Announces Completion of Major Conservation Project at Osmania University College for Women in India
Inauguration ceremony celebrates over two decades of work and an investment of more than $2,700,000 at the site.
New York, NY – January 14, 2023 – World Monuments Fund (WMF) today announced the completion of a major conservation program at Osmania University College for Women, capping a 20-year initiative to restore the first institute of higher education for women in Telengana, India. The completion represents over two decades of work and an investment of more than $2,700,000 thanks to funding from a number of generous supporters listed below.
Constructed in the early nineteenth century and one of India’s earliest examples of the classical revival style, the building originally served as the British Residency of the Hyderabad State and became part of the Osmania University College for Women in 1947. By the end of the twentieth century, heavy traffic, poor maintenance, and faulty repair work had left the college in a state of disrepair and was included on the World Monuments Watch in 2002 after water damage to the timber support structure caused one of its large halls to collapse.
After documentation and assessment, physical conservation of the site began in 2014 after the west wing roof had collapsed, requiring emergency repairs. The 200-year-old British Residency Building has a towering Palladian-style porch, its pillars rising up to 41 feet. The immense Darbar Hall dominates the building’s space, with a patterned roof that has been restored over a two-year period.
One of the challenges of conservation work at the College structural repairs while preserving the building’s historic elements and maintaining the structure’s rich detail. An Interpretation Center highlights these elements, detailing the conservation process while also telling the building’s story over the centuries and underscoring its cultural significance in the city.
The 20-year conservation of the British Residency has also contributed to training the heritage workers of the future, hosting several groups of conservation trainees from around the world. The most recent group, under the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme funded by the Hamish Ogston Foundation, was a mixture of UK- and Hyderabad-based trainees, who learned from local experts whilst undertaking conservation work at Osmania and who will take the skills learned with them into their future careers, helping to rebuild the global heritage conservation workforce.
“Osmania University College for Women is one of World Monuments Fund’s Signature Projects, representing the organization’s most ambitious and long-term conservation efforts across the globe, addressing critical needs at a site while facilitating far-ranging local participation, professional skills development and innovative solutions that can serve as models for the field,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and CEO of World Monuments Fund. “We are thrilled that thanks to the effectiveness of international partnerships, Osmania has been rescued, restored, and reopened to the public, this architectural masterpiece can continue its mandate, educating more than 4,000 pupils in an extraordinary historic setting.”
This project was made possible through a partnership with Osmania University College of Women, Hyderabad, and the Department of Heritage, Government of Telangana, with the generous support of The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, Mr. Richard Broyd, Dr. Tejaswini Yarlagadda, the Pleach India Foundation, Hamish Ogston Foundation, and the Commonwealth Heritage Forum.
To mark the completion of this Signature Project, a new World Monuments Fund book, An Architectural Masterpiece in Hyderabad, written by Anuradha Naik and published by Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers in association with World Monuments Fund, is being released on January 14, 2023. The book details the building’s history and efforts to bring it back to life.
About World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s most treasured places to enrich people’s lives and build mutual understanding across cultures and communities. The organization is headquartered in New York City with offices and affiliates in Cambodia, India, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and the UK. Since 1965, our global team of experts has preserved the world's diverse cultural heritage using the highest international standards at more than 700 sites in 112 countries. Partnering with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF draws on heritage to address some of today’s most pressing challenges: climate change, underrepresentation, imbalanced tourism, and post-crisis recovery. With a commitment to the people who bring places to life, WMF embraces the potential of the past to create a more resilient and inclusive society.
Judith Walker, Vice President of Communications