Kashmiri couple in US make efforts to create museum in century-old stone church in Niagara Falls

The Gurus have assembled a collection of more than 15,000 books

The museum would display 600 original paintings, etchings, drawings and artefacts related to Kashmir

Srinagar: To highlight the diversity, history and peaceful traditions of Kashmir a Kashmiri couple based in Western New York is leading an effort to create a new museum of Kashmiri art and culture in the US city.

The couple, Dr Guru and Dr Lubna, hailing from Kashmir and settled in US, are looking to create a new non-profit museum in Western New York.

Dr Guru is a surgeon at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Dr Lubna Guru is a paediatrician in Lockport.

The couple have assembled a collection of more than 15,ooo books of art and artefacts of Kashmir life and its culture, which they plan to use for a new museum named the ‘Center for Kashmir’ in a vacant century-old stone church in Niagara Falls.

The couple believes that a Kashmiri museum in US would act as a draw for patrons to learn more about Kashmiri art and culture.

They also hope to build on the city’s other cultural attractions, including the Niagara Aerospace Museum, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center and Aquarium of Niagara, said a report by New York based newspaper Buffalo News.

“It’s adding momentum and velocity to where it now slowly starts to look like an arts city, if everything goes in favour,” Guru was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Not only drawing visitors from the Buffalo Niagara region and a larger area within driving distance, the couple is also counting on the hordes of tourists that flock to Niagara Falls every year. Pertinently tourists from Asia visit the place every year.

“Valued at about $2 million, it is possibly the largest such collection outside of Kashmir itself – including the biggest assortment of books on the region aside from what might be in the British Museum or the Library of Congress,” Guru told Buffalo News.

Guru believes that the accumulation of the books is a decent collection to a level that one could create a ‘nice little museum’.

Youtube Screengrab.

In order to convert their new museum into the Center for Kashmir, the couple is buying a vacant historic stone church from Michael Suszek at 650 Park Place in Niagara Falls. The closing for it is scheduled for July 15.

According to the report, the renovations to the 97-year-old church will include a new roof, masonry repair, complete gutting of the interior and new mechanical and electrical systems.

According to the NCIDA, project costs include $200,000 for acquisition of the property, $1.25 million for construction and improvements, $250,000 for furniture and equipment, and $300,000 for other “soft” costs.

The Gurus are also seeking $500,000 in federal and state historic tax credits, plus $1.5 million in equity or bank financing.

According to NCIDA documents, their donation to the museum would display 600 “original paintings, etchings, drawings and artefacts.”


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