The Indian Museum in Kolkata is the oldest and biggest museum in the country filled with relics from pre-historic eras. It is also called the Imperial Museum and was established in 1814 by the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Although most museums are themed, this one is a mix of everything from botany, geology and even anthropology.
The artifacts at this museum narrate the past of this diverse country; educating everyone who walks through these hallowed halls. This historical museum houses amazing relics like Mughal paintings, fossils, mummies and even skeletons. Here is everything you need to know about this museum to get you inspired and book last minute flight tickets to Kolkata.
How The Museum Came Into Existence?
The Asiatic Society of Bengal was founded in 1784 with the aim to spread knowledge and conserve our cultural heritage. Members of this society framed the plan for a museum back in 1796. After a lot of delay due to lack of a structure, the museum only opened in 1814.
A Danish Botanist Nathaniel Wallich wrote a letter to the society explaining the importance of the museum. The society assigned Nathaniel as a curator who helped set up the museum and even donated artifacts from his personal collection. The Imperial Museum was now a reality at the Asiatic Society Building. Word spread like wildfire and generous individuals from India and Europe contributed a number of relics to add to its existing collection.
The Museum slowly gained fame which led to the society laying the foundation for a bigger building to house their artifacts. In 1875, the three-storey structure designed by architect W.L. Grandville was complete. All the valuable collections were transferred to the new building. On the 1st of April 1878, the Indian Museum in Kolkata opened its doors to the public with two galleries.
What Knowledge Does This Museum Impart?
Today, this vast museum boasts 14 galleries with carefully preserved relics from ancient times. The museum has a Bird Gallery, Mask Gallery and even Insect Gallery that displays unique taxidermy animals and artifacts from around the world. Read below about the galleries and all that you are missing out on if you don’t pay a very essential visit to this museum.
This gallery holds architectural remains of a gateway and railing from the 2nd Century BCE. The only surviving gateway called Torana was excavated by Sir Alexander Cunningham and brought to the museum in 1875. These relics belong to the Sunga Period and were unearthed from Bharhut in the Satna District of Madhya Pradesh.
The Gandhara gallery showcases the many sculptures depicting the life of Lord Buddha. It also houses sculpting works from the Gandhara School of Art which was a flourishing artistic institute in the 2nd Century. These relics were excavated from different regions in Afghanistan.
This gallery dedicated to mammals was set up in 1878 to exhibit specimens for educative and conservation reasons. The gallery was recently renovated with many new additions; it houses 314 exhibits in total. Some of these taxidermy animals are over 100 years old. They also showcase horns, skeletons and skulls of mammals.
Believe it or not but this museum holds a total of 52,000 coins from various eras ranging from 4th Century BC to present day. They have all been found from different places on the Indian subcontinent. Some coins are replicas but most of them are original with amazing intricate inscriptions.
The star of this museum for most is the Egypt Gallery which displays artifacts from the Egyptian civilization. It includes a 4,000 year old mummy which attracts scores of tourists who want a glimpse of this wrapped up corpse.
Everything You Need To Know While Visiting This Museum
Now, that you know what interesting relics are on display at the Indian Museum in Kolkata, all that’s left is information about timings and policies.
Timings: The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday but the timings are different on weekends. It opens at 10 AM and closes at 6:30 PM on Tuesday to Friday and 10 AM to 8 PM on Saturday and Sunday. The museum remains closed on Monday as well as all public holidays.
Entry Fee: Children above the age of 5 are charged Rs. 20 whereas Indian adults are charged Rs. 50. Foreigners visiting the museum will need to pay an entrance fee of Rs. 500 which is 7 American dollars.
Photography Charges: To click pictures on your smartphone, a fee of Rs. 50 is applied and a camera is Rs. 100. However, for videography it costs Rs. 2000 for a small camera and Rs. 5000 for a camera with a stand.
Library and Guide Facilities: The Library is open on weekdays from 10 AM to 5 PM and is closed on second Saturday and Sunday. The membership fee for the library is Rs. 50 and the guide for the museum is free.
This museum is a dream come true for historians and even art enthusiasts as you get to travel back in time and see unique things. The Indian Museum in Kolkata gained popularity for its dedication towards preserving the artifacts and scavenging for more rare items to add to their collection. Now that you know everything about
his museum why not plan an intriguing trip to the land of diversity. Indian Eagle is there to make your life easier with an easy to use website filled with the best offers on flight tickets.