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National Museum

The National Museum situated at the junction of Janpath and Maulana Azad Road, New Delhi is one of the biggest and oldest exhibit archives of India. It was founded in 1949 to exhibit art works from all over the world and holds around 200,000 works of finesse, oldest of which can be traced 5000 years back. It is governed by the Ministry of culture, Government of India. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India laid the foundation stone for the museum building in the year 1955. It became public in the year 1960. 

The museum also constitutes the National Museum Institute of History of Arts Conservation and Museology founded in 1983 which doubles up as a deemed University offering Masters and Doctoral level studies in History of Art, Conservation and Museology.

Features of National Museum

This museum is split into various departments, according to the eras and art kind, like it has galleries exhibiting art work belonging to pre-history Archaelogy, manuscripts, numistics and epigraphy, decorative arts, music, arms and armour, wood carvings, coins etc. It showcases art objects from the famous eras associated with Gupta and Maurya rules amongst others.

On Exhibit

Exhibits from Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilizations: The Indus valley civilization comes alive in this part of the museum as it showcases various works of art and other ancient things like toys, pottery etc. The collection depicts the Harrapan age as a very advanced and sauve civilisation in terms of technology. The priest head and the dancing girl made up of bronze metal are of special significance since they belong to the earliest of the Harappan era. It also has other preserved objects like sculptures made up of bronze, bones, ivory, precious stones etc. While it presents some information about the gods that were worshipped in the form of terracota image of mother goddess, it also holds some of the magnificent works of art like shining and painted pottery, apart from the jewellery from that age.

Exhibits from Kushana era: The Kushan era from 1st-3rd century is collected through various art objects from the Gandhara and Mathura school of art. The Gandhara School of art has a strong impact of Greek iconography, prominent being the statue of standing Buddha. This art object belongs to the 2nd century and is made from the Grey schist stone. Whereas, the Mathura school of arts has also used Jainism and Brahmanism along with the Buddhism. One can also have look at the art objects in the form of Hindu Gods like Shiva Linga and Kuber.

Exhibits from Gupta Dynasty: This Dynasty was in power from 4th to 6th century which marked the era for artistic excellence and set a bench-mark for the future centuries. During this time, the sculptures attained a refined quality with displays from the epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Exhibits from the Maurya and Shunga Dynasties: The art objects from these dynasties in 4th century have strong influence of Greeks, thus they imbibe the characteristic, smooth, shining mirror-like finishing. Also, this gallery showcases the remains of ancient structures 'Stupas' which carries paintings depicting Buddha’s life and stories related to him. However,  all the depictions, whether paintings or carvings, show Buddha in symbolic forms like Dharmachakra or foot-prints.

Apart from art objects belonging to these typical eras, the museum showcases the artefacts from the early and late medieval eras from 7th century to 13th century when India was ruled by different dynasties with divisions like east, west, north and south. The art from this era shows an acute decline in the quality since there was a shortage of talented craftsmen as many monuments were built during the time.

The decorative galleries have a rich collection of ceramics, jade and ivory artefacts. Watch out for the interesting theme based section which depicts the games and thrones of ancient India. Other than that, the galleries also exhibit art works ranging from historic period to recent times which consists of metal-ware, Jewellery and wooden vahanas.

The miniature paintings galleries showcase ancient paintings from different parts of India like the  Mughal, Rajasthani, Pahari from the 1000th century until now. The collection has paintings on wood, leather and leaves depicting the stories from Ramayana, Bhagavad Purana and Panchatantra, to mention a few.

Vast and varied that it is, the museum showcases many more arts related to textiles, coins, paintings, musical instruments, tribal art, wooden carvings and manuscripts pre-dominantly from different regions in India belonging to the period from 17th century to 19th century. 

Information for Visitors

  • Timings: 10 am-5pm Tuesday-Sunday
  • Ticket Cost: Rs. 300
  • Location: Janpath, Delhi
  • Attractions: The miniature paintings gallery and the theme-based section.

How to Reach

By Road

As it is located in the central Delhi, it is well connected by roadway and can be reached by the local transport like cab and taxi.  

By Air

As Delhi is the capital of India, flights are scheduled regularly to the city, from almost all major cities of world. Also, it is well connected to major cities in India through domestic flights.

By Train

One can catch a Delhi metro from other parts of Delhi to reach the National Museum. Delhi is well connected by railway to other cities of India.

By Bus

The Delhi Transport Corporation buses provide an easy and reasonable option to reach the National Museum.









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