- October 27, 2022
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Legendary Goans, Life In Goa, Lifestyle & People, Trending In Goa
The late iconic fashion designer Wendell Rodricks had a dream – to build India’s first museum tracing the history of Goa and the Konkan region through its costumes. Cocooned in an old house in Colvale, the Moda Goa Museum & Research Centre is a dream about to come true very soon.
Text: Samira Sheth
Down the bylanes of Colvale, in the home where Wendell and Jerome lived for 24 years, something significant is happening. A world class museum is coming into shape – the Moda Goa Museum & Research Centre.
Wendell Rodricks left behind a huge legacy – as a world renowned fashion designer, an author, Padma Shri recipient, curator, historian and an environmentalist. With this museum, a long held dream of his, he has made an indelible contribution to Goa. Since he passed away suddenly in February 2020, Wendell’s partner, Jerome Marrell, has done his utmost to bring the late designer’s dream to fruition.
The labour of love is being brought to life in a sprawling old house. Casa Dona Maria, as the house was named, is an unregistered heritage house with the ground floor dating to the late 1500’s and the rest of the structure to the mid 1750’s to 1850’s. After acquisition by the Founding Trustee, Wendell, in 1993 various additions were made keeping in mind the design and construction techniques of the past.
The restoration being carried out at present is in line with the requirements of the best heritage conservation standards.
With a collection of over 800 objects including statues, objects, furniture, photographs and of course clothing, jewellery and accessories, spanning across the seventh century to the present, the world class Moda Goa Museum & Research Centre showcases the many histories of Goa and the Konkan region through its costume. It will be India’s first costume museum. 18 galleries will be accommodated in the restored heritage building on a floor area of 750 sqm set on two levels, both of which are wheelchair access enabled.
Galleries abut one another, leading one through the many interconnected histories that make Goa what it is today. The Old Gods of Goa reside in one room, the residuary of the many cultures that influenced Goa – Omani, Arab, Greek, Roman and more in another; the arrival of the Portuguese, a period which was to last over 450 years is showcased in another while other rooms display objects that speak of the multicultural history of the region through Inquisition and Liberation.
A huge repository of Christian art has been donated to the museum and is lovingly displayed. There is one room dedicated to the sarees of India, to give national perspectives on the enduring costumes of India and its textile history. There are tributes to famous Goans in a gallery, sparking a conversation about how Goans have carried their specific design aesthetic with them. An entire gallery is devoted to the memory of Prateek, a young boy who suffered from cancer. His noteworthy drawings are displayed on the walls. One gallery is entirely converted into a vault and showcases gold and other jewellery of historical significance. The significance of costume to Goan culture and the coast – how it changed, what influenced it, what is the significance of costume as a marker of social identity, class, economics, culture and more are the main thrust of this remarkable museum space.
A roster of changing shows will take place in the courtyard or one of the galleries sponsored by the FDCI, rooted in the special relationship Wendell had with them. Many others have contributed their time, expertise and services generously without any fee including architects Arvind and Nita D’Souza, designer Satyajit Vetoskar, The One School Goa for photography and Sancoale Technologies for website support.
An eminent the Board of Trustees includes Goan entrepreneur, educationist and philanthropist Pallavi Dempo, historian and heritage activist Prajal Sakhardande and renowned apparel and jewellery designer Shreedevi Deshpande Puri, also the Managing Trustee of the Museum.
An exhaustive library housing possibly the most expansive collection of books on fashion from Wendell’s personal collection provides a research space for scholars and students.
Fully in keeping with Wendell’s vision for the museum, Jerome explains, “In phase 2 we will build, in traditional Goan style, an area of 240 sqm to house storage, conservation, a scholar residence and an administration zone.”
The emphasis is on keeping the Goan character of the old home, as Wendell wanted. The beauty of the facade has not been altered at all. The changes have only been made inside and the building is fully air-conditioned with a state of the art lighting system and sealed vitrines to display historical objects safely and without any damage from Goa’s humid climate.
So much thought and planning has gone into making this Museum a reality. It was while researching his book Moda Goa over a period of ten years that Wendell began to realise the historical significance of the objects he was collecting. Most of these rare pieces, entirely from his collection find space in this stunning museum. Art, architecture, history, costume all come together to pull us through interesting times.
Each object speaks a story not only of its past but also of its collector – Wendell and his passion for bringing these stories to light.
LETTER FROM THE FOUNDING TRUSTEE