Some South Asian Museums!

A museum is an exhibition of various items under one or more categories.

Museum has its origins in the Greek word Museion, which was a building set apart for study and the arts (such as poetry, music, painting, etc.). The term “museum” refers to both buildings or collections themselves.

The purpose of most museums is to collect items that can be preserved and shared with others. Over time they collect things like urns; paintings; sculptures; books; photographs; clothing; weapons; urns; ceramics etc. The main thing they focus on collecting are items neither created nor used by humans. That’s why they also include fossils (bones) and other rays (shadow). Many museums include exhibits of art and history. There are also many museums that contain items that could be found in nature or just made by human beings. Some of the Museums are mentioned below:

1. National Museum, New Delhi

Spread over 2 acres this museum houses collections related to archaeology, armory, Buddhist sculptures, costumes & textiles, coins, decorative arts including paintings spanning several millennia starting from 3000 BC to the present day. It has an extensive collection of Mughal paintings consisting of miniatures showing various aspects of life in the 16th & 17th centuries. It also has a rare series of portraits by 14 British artists depicting Indian rulers from Akbar to Aurangzeb. This section also contains oil paintings, bronze sculptures, and richly decorated royal costumes including one worn by King George V during his visit to India in 1911.

2. National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

The Gallery of Modern Art houses the finest collection of modern paintings. The gallery has an excellent collection of some 300 works by reputed Indian masters like Abanindranath Tagore, Ramkinkar Baij, Rabindranath Tagore, Amrita Sher-Gil, and Nandalal Bose.

3. National Museum, Mumbai

India’s premier art museum is housed in a building overlooking the sea at Nariman Point in south Mumbai. Spread over 12 sections with separate galleries on Indus Valley Civilization, Buddhist Heritage, South Indian Temple Sculptures till Modern & Contemporary Art section this museum exhibits rare stone sculptures dating back to the 2nd century BC. Some extremely beautiful pieces are on display depicting Jain mythology. The museum also has an auditorium to present dance, theater, and music.

4. National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai

This gallery which is located in Mehata Mantar at Malabar Hill in the southern part of Mumbai was set up with the help of leading artists’ groups like Bombay Progressive Artists Group (1947) & the Society of Contemporary Artists (1953). It houses a varied collection of Indian contemporary paintings covering several genres.



5. Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai

Established in 1875 this museum has collections covering natural history, geology, anthropology, and art with artifacts dating back to 3000 BC in the Bronze Age; 2nd–3rd century AD Roman sculptures; Maratha period costumes; embroidery work by Rabari tribes; brass & silverware utensils made by Shekhavati craftsmen; miniatures from Kangra painting school; wood carvings depicting Hindu mythology; paintings by Raja Ravi Varma; rare fossils (like dinosaur bones discovered in Kutch Basin dated to 150 million years); and an impressive collection of artifacts like Afghan daggers, Japanese swords, spears & arrows (that belonged to Tipu Sultan), etc.

6. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai

This museum is the main art and history museum of India and has a fine collection of ancient and medieval stone & metal sculptures, paintings, textiles, wooden objects, carpets, amulets, musical instruments, and a rare collection of Chinese porcelain. The gallery devoted to the artifacts from Indus Valley Civilization & Gandhara is among the largest in Asia. The Middle Eastern Gallery has an extensive collection of 18th-century miniatures, contemporary paintings, and modern sculptures.

7. National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore

The Gallery of Modern Art was built in the shape of a lotus to house both permanent & temporary exhibitions. It is located on Palace Grounds near the Bangalore High Court. The gallery houses some of the finest Indian paintings ranging from Abanindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher-Gil, Maqbool Fida Husain, Ravi Varma, etc.

8. Government Museum, Chennai

The building of the museum was originally constructed as a palace for the Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur in 1882-84 and it has been renovated to suit its present role after independence. The collection displayed here consists of paintings, sculptures, bronzes & documents belonging mainly to Indian heritage arranged in 10 galleries. A section on Buddhist art displays rare stone sculptures from Amaravati dating back to the 2nd century BC while a gallery devoted to Pallava art contains some fine specimens from the 7th century onwards. Other collections include those on bronze Chola period work & South Indian temple sculpture. One can find an extensive collection of terracotta figurines depicting Hindu mythological themes as well as beautiful examples of Thanjavur paintings.

9. Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad

This museum which was originally a royal palace of the Nizams has one of Asia’s largest collections comprising 19th-century European oil paintings, statues, an extensive collection of Indian miniature paintings, Chinese porcelain & bronzes from the 15th century onwards. The European pictures include works by Italian painters Canaletto and Raphael while there is a portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte by French painter Gérard. The Indian paintings cover all major styles & schools of modern art, folk art & crafts with key works being those of Raja Ravi Varma, Da Vinci’s Last Supper, and 24 X 30 feet painting depicting the story of St. Francis Xavier. The Museum has a five-story high Buddha idol made up of 544 pieces of marble brought from Makrana quarries which took 14 years to assemble.

10. National Gallery of Modern Art, Ahmedabad

This art museum is housed in the former Gaekwad’s Baroda Museum & Picture Gallery which was built in 1870 with an endowment from Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. Its collections include European paintings by painters like Monet, Gaugin, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cézanne & Picasso; Indian miniature paintings; Chinese & Japanese porcelain; Persian miniatures; and sculptures. The museum was renovated in 1980-81 with the help of grants from the Ford Foundation resulting in its present two-floor structure after removing an internal staircase.

11. National Handicrafts & Handlooms Museum, Delhi

This museum which was formerly known as the Imperial Museum has a collection of almost 10,000 exhibits including metal objects & jewelry dating back to circa 2400 BC; terracottas from the Indus Valley Civilization; stone sculpture from the medieval period; and paintings, metal craftwork, enamelware, woodwork, and embroidery.

12. Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal

Bharat Bhavan is an elegant 19th-century mansion built by Maharaja Bajirao II in 1892 as his royal palace with its compound having lush greenery consisting of several species of plants and trees. The museum was established to promote art & artists who reflect Indian culture through various media like paintings, graphic arts (etchings & lithographs), sculpture, photography, folk arts & crafts.

Leave a Comment