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A walk-through of the Indian Museum: Where history comes alive

From Indian artefacts, Egyptian relics to bird specimens from Antarctica, the Indian Museum has it all. Here’s a look at some of the popular galleries. . .

Ronjini Ishani Sen | Published 06.10.22, 06:10 PM
The Indian Museum is a treasure trove of ancient relics, artefacts and interesting specimens

The Indian Museum is a treasure trove of ancient relics, artefacts and interesting specimens

Wikimedia Commons

Done with pandal-hopping? What about some other activities to keep you busy in the holiday season? A visit to the Indian Museum could be a perfect all-day option.

Established as the Imperial Museum in 1814 by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the Indian Museum is the country’s oldest and largest museum.

Here’s a guide for a visit to the Indian Museum:

  • To ensure safety and security, anyone stepping into the museum is required to go through a security check
  • The entry fee is Rs 50 for Indian adults, Rs 500 for foreigners and Rs 20 for children above the age of 5 years
  • Separate tickets must be bought for cameras — Rs 50 for smartphone cameras, Rs 100 for DSLR., Rs 200 for small video cameras and Rs 5,000 for cameras with stands

The Indian Museum has been divided into six sections — Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Zoology, Geology, and Botany. Each section houses a sizable volume of relevant and priceless objects.

My Kolkata took a walk-through of some of the popular galleries.

Egypt gallery

Ancient sculptures in the Egypt gallery at the Indian Museum

Ancient sculptures in the Egypt gallery at the Indian Museum

Ronjini Ishani Sen

The Egypt gallery is perhaps the most popular gallery in the museum, thanks to the ancient relic it houses. Said to be a gift from the ‘tombs of the kings at Gourvah’ in Egypt to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the founder of the museum, the 4,000-year-old mummy in the Egypt gallery is perhaps the greatest attraction of the museum. Other objects of significance include the Canopic jars of the mummy and a mummified hand that was gifted to the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1844, shortly before the arrival of the mummy. The gallery offers an insight into ancient Egypt and urges visitors to know more about the civilisation.

Bird gallery

Birds of South America on display

Birds of South America on display

Ronjini Ishani Sen

This section of the museum is all about birds and their ecosystem relationships and behaviour. Specimens of foreign birds from various continents are on display. 

From the native peacock to ostriches, ring-necked pheasants and penguins, visitors can get a glimpse of a variety of birds. One also gets to take a look at the gallery’s vast collection of stuffed birds. From the dense forests of India to the icy desert of Antarctica, this gallery has bird specimens from almost all over the world.

Mammal gallery

The mammal gallery houses animal skeletons, bones and fossils

The mammal gallery houses animal skeletons, bones and fossils

Ronjini Ishani Sen

A massive collection of bones and fossils of various animals found across India can be found on display here. The gallery also boasts a vast collection of unique stuffed mammals from India and around the globe. The highlight is the skeleton of a common minke whale that was found stranded along the Myanmar coast in 1804.

A wide array of stuffed animals on display

A wide array of stuffed animals on display

Ronjini Ishani Sen

Insect gallery

The insect gallery at the Indian Museum

The insect gallery at the Indian Museum

Ronjini Ishani Sen

A major attraction for all entomophiles, this gallery is a storehouse of information and houses specimens of a plethora of insects and invertebrates, including crustaceans, terrestrial invertebrates, protozoa, porifera and cnidaria. Lifelike models of the same occupy the walls of the gallery.

Textile gallery

A handloom displayed in the textile gallery

A handloom displayed in the textile gallery

Ronjini Ishani Sen

Textiles from across India and different periods of time are preserved in their original glory in this gallery, although most on display are from the 19th century. The textile gallery is a treasure trove for both professionals and students. A vintage, well-preserved handloom greets visitors at the entrance.

Decorative items section

The decorative items section houses priceless antiques that include swords, shields and ancient helmets

The decorative items section houses priceless antiques that include swords, shields and ancient helmets

Ronjini Ishani Sen

This section is lined with items made of lacquer and gold, ivory items, exquisite betel boxes, bronze helmets, intricate wooden mirror frames and tables. The artefacts on display include a dazzling array of precious antiques from across India and countries abroad like Myanmar. Visitors can feel history come alive through these precious objects of everyday use from bygone times.

Aquatic gallery

A specimen on display in the gallery

A specimen on display in the gallery

Ronjini Ishani Sen

This gallery houses a large collection of specimens and models of aquatic animals and amphibians ranging from sharks to gharials, alligators and turtles. The specimens make the fish gallery an extremely educational section to check out. 

Other attractions

The museum corridors are lined with intriguing relics, sculptures and artefacts

The museum corridors are lined with intriguing relics, sculptures and artefacts

Ronjini Ishani Sen

The museum corridors: Priceless statues and stone sculptures from a 1000 years ago line the corridors of the museum, thus providing visitors with the opportunity and pleasure of witnessing objects of awe and intrigue at all times.

Museum gift shop: The museum gift shop is open to all and is perfect for visitors wanting to purchase memorabilia.

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.

Last updated on 06.10.22, 06:10 PM
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