A Kashmiri doctor couple living in USA are in the process of setting up a library and museum of art, history, and culture in New York using over 1500 Kashmir books, paintings, and other artefacts collected by them over the years.
Dr Khurshid Guru, a noted Robotic Surgeon, and his wife Dr Lubna Guru are in the process of buying a 97-year-old vacant, historic stone church at 650 Park Place in Niagara Falls, and convert the same into their new museum, which they believe will serve as the Center for Kashmir culture and studies.
Originally from Sopore in north Kashmir, Dr Guru is the son of famous cardiologist of Kashmir, Dr Abdul Ahad Guru.
Worth $2 million (nearly Rs 15 crore), the collection is arguably the largest outside Kashmir valley. Gurus believe that once established the Museum should help visitors understand diversity, history and peaceful traditions of Kashmir, a region largely known for the geo-political conflict it is tangled into.
Dr Guru is a surgeon at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, while his wife is a paediatrician at Lockport. The couple have been living in East Amherst New York since 2005, and have spent these years collecting the books, and artifacts they plan to donate to the museum.
Apart from the books, the Gurus’ collection includes 600 original paintings, etchings, and drawings.
Many of the books and drawings, Dr Guru said, are from the late 1700s and 1800s, and most of them are written and drawn by European travellers through the British era.
The collection includes drawings of Governor-General of the British Empire in the 1860s, including a series of 25 pencil sketches by his wife of their travels in the mountains, which Gurus have purchased in Scotland several years ago.
There are also pencil etchings by a British soldier from 1854, copper etchings by an Australian-British artist, oil paintings, and a mixture of metal and wood handicrafts from Kashmiri artisans from the 1820s and 1830s.
Dr Guru says he has received many offers from various institutions about buying the collection.
Those interested included Rubin Museum of Art in New York City, University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University, and Columbia University.
“I’ve had a few offers to go elsewhere,” Dr Guru told Buffalonews.com, adding with a smile, “Ultimately, the people of Buffalo got us, because they’re too nice.”
As for the stone church, the closing is scheduled on July 15 post which Gurus will begin its renovation work including setting up a new roof, masonry repair, and installing new mechanical and electrical systems.
They are also purchasing two houses close to the Church to provide residential space for visiting Kashmiri artists, scholars and other contributors.
Additionally, plans call for art and cultural clinics for local residents, possibly in partnership with the Rapids Theater, Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, and Niagara University.
The entire project is estimated to cost around $2 million.
(This article has been curated by KM Reporter Nisar Dharma using the information from the original one published by The Buffalo News on July 5, 2020)