Götz Hagmüller, the man who wanted to restore all museums in Nepal, dies aged 85

File photo: Götz Hagmüller in his house in Bhaktapur in 2017.

Austrian architect Götz Hagmüller passed away on February 2, at the age of 85 in Kuthu Math, Bhaktapur.  

Hagmüller dedicated his life to restoring historical buildings in Nepal. He was known for his restoration work on the Patan Museum and the Garden of Dreams, as well as for reviving the Cyasilin Mandap at Bhaktapur Durbar Square from historical records.

In 2017, he released volume 2 of his book A Picture Book of My Life where he recounted his life’s journey along with his work in Nepal.

Götz Hagmüller first came to Nepal in 1969, on a UN mission working for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. He came to Nepal to study wood usage in housing. Soon he was part of the Bhaktapur Development Project and one visit to the city was all it took for him to fall in love with it. After that, he never left.

Back in 2017, speaking to Onlinekhabar, Hagmüller mentioned how he loved the traditional buildings in the city and how he felt Kathmandu Valley and its three cities were the most beautiful in the world.

“Nepal’s beautiful architecture. It’s just amazing, you know. One of the most beautiful traditional architectures in the world. There was nothing comparable. Rich and poor people alike possessed beautiful buildings. The people were extremely friendly and welcoming,” he said.

He always campaigned for preserving the valley’s rich cultural heritage and architecture and in 2001 was given the Gorkha Dakshin Bahu by King Birendra Shah for his work in the valley.

However, he was worried about what was happening to the city and often voiced his frustrations on how hard it was to work with Nepali bureaucrats and politicians.

“Working here has been hard,” he said in 2017 during his book launch.

As Götz Hagmüller passed away on Friday, tributes poured in paying homage to Hagmüller and his work. Many who worked with him during his four-decade stay in Nepal say that he has left as significant a mark on the Kathmandu Valley as the valley has left on him.

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