National Museum, Delhi

Weather :

Timings : 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Closed on Mondays

Time Required : 2 - 3 hrs

Entry Fee : Indian- INR 20
Kids (up to class 12th)- No Entry Fee
Foreigners- INR 650 (Audio guide included)

National Museum, Delhi Overview

Also known as the National Museum of India, the National Museum in New Delhi is one the largest museums in India, situated on the corner of the Janpath and Maulana Azad Road. Established in 1949, the blueprints of the majestic repository were prepared by the Gwyer Committee set up by the Government of India in 1946. Today, the museum boasts of possessing a whopping 200,000 artworks, both Indian and foreign, and is maintained by the Ministry of Culture, Department of India. Covering an extensive range of products from the prehistoric times to modern works of art, the museum traces the rich cultural heritage of nations across the world, from over 5000 years ago.

The museum also houses National Museum Institute of the History of Arts, Conservation and Museology which was added as a different section in 1983. Since 1989, this section runs different courses in History of Arts, Conservation and Museology for Masters and Doctoral degrees. Besides, the repository boasts of 4th and 5th century B.C. relics, dating back to the times of Buddha and the Harappan Civilization, in addition to numerous wood carvings, paintings, sculptures, murals, textiles, armoury etc. The two-storeyed building has clearly segregated chambers to display antiques of different periods. It covers all departments including Archaeology, Decorative Arts, Jewellery, Manuscripts, Textiles, Numismatics, Epigraphy, Central Asian Antiquities, Anthropology, Pre-Columbian American and Western Art Collections. The museum is an unparalleled blend of the glorious past and the wondrous present.

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History of National Museum

In the winters of 1947-48, an exhibition on Indian arts and artefacts was set up in the Royal Academy of London. Post the event in London; the exhibition curators intended to display the entire collection in India before returning the antics to the respective individual museums. Therefore in 1949, an exhibition was organized in the premises of Rashtrapati Bhawan. The massive success of the exhibition led to the decision of the formation of a permanent National Museum. On 15th August 1949, the museum housed in Rashtrapati Bhawan was inaugurated by the then Governor- General of India- C. Rajagopalachari.

Later in 1955, the museum was moved to the current location and was formally inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1960. Until 1957, the museum was run by Director General of Archaeology. Currently, it is maintained and managed by Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

Galleries in National Museum

The National Museum boasts of an extensive number of galleries possessing a sweeping number of exhibits and relics of ancient cultural heritage. Here’s mentioning a few of the several galleries present in the museum.

1. Harappan Gallery houses various artefacts from the Indus Valley Civilization popularly called as Harappan or Indo- Saraswati Civilization. The prominent displays are the very famous figurine of the dancing girl and the priest's head. Most of these antics have been borrowed from the Archaeological Survey of India permanently. Apart from this, the gallery flaunts various terracotta sculptures, bone structures, ivory, semi-precious stones and numerous seals founded during excavations. The displays successfully contrast the glorious civilization of India at par with contemporary civilizations of Egypt, China and Mesopotamia.
2. Spanning three dynasties, the Maurya, Shunga and Satvahana Art Gallery has objects from the 4th century BC to 1st BC. The relics in this gallery showcase the Greek influence, which primarily include fragments of the railings and structures from ancient stupas. An important period in the religion of Buddhism, this gallery, however, just has depictions of Buddha’s life in the form of inscriptions or carvings without any real sculpture or physical form.
3. Kushana Gallery depicts objects from the Kushan Period ranging from 1st - 3rd century BC. This gallery primarily presents a demonstration of the Gandhara School of Art and Mathura School of Art. This is also the period when Buddha was shown in a physical form.
4. Gupta Gallery depicts the supreme Gupta period from 4th to the 6th century BC. The gallery is a celebration of marvellous sculpture and religious iconography with exhibits of Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna and magnificent sculptures of other gods and temples.
5. Medieval Gallery is subdivided into Early and Late Medieval Artefacts. Early Medieval artefacts cover the Palas, Chalukyas and Pratiharas between 7th and 10th centuries, after the fall of Gupta Empire. Late Medieval artefacts have sculptures from the 10th and 13th centuries, of the Hoysalas, Gajapatis, Chauhans etc.
6. Decorative Arts Gallery is a glimpse in the decorative articles across centuries which include collections of ivory, jade and ceramics, thrones of Indian rulers, Hindu and Jain pitakas, metalware, jewellery etc.
7. Miniature Painting Gallery displays around 17000 paintings from all over India, extending over Mughal, Rajasthani, Deccani, Pahari and the others. The main theme of the paintings is Mahabharat, Ramayana, Purana, Ragamala, Baburname etc.
8. Buddhist Art Section houses the extensive relics, specimen and antics from the life and times of Buddha.

Auditorium in National Museum

In addition to the above, the museum also houses a compact but airy auditorium with a seating facility of 250 people.A brief film introducing the auditorium is screened several times in a day. Occasionally, the auditorium also screens film shows on art, history and heritage.

Audio Tour in National Museum

A 75-minutes audio tour can be facilitated at some extra cost, which is available in English, Hindi, French, German and Japanese.
The cost for Hindi language (for Indians)- INR 100.
The cost for other languages (for Indians)- INR 150.
Cost for foreigners is included in the entry tickets.

Best Time To Visit National Museum

The perfect time to visit National Museum is early morning on Wednesdays, preferably around 10:00 AM as the museum conducts gallery talks every Wednesday at 11:00 AM in the respective galleries. Reach well in advance to get your tickets and proceed to your favourite gallery to attend the talk.

Tips For Visiting National Museum

1. Videography inside the premises is prohibited.
2. Still Camera photography is allowed, but you need to take prior permission at the reception.
3. Wheelchair facility is available for the handicapped. It is preferable to book beforehand.

How To Reach National Museum, Delhi

Delhi is a state well connected through metro and state-run buses. The nearest metro stations to the National Museum is Central Secretariat or the Udyog Bhavan Metro, both of which are situated on the yellow line. The museum is roughly around 3 - 4 kms from the metro; you can either hire a local or a battery run rickshaw. You can also book a taxi cab for a more comfortable journey. Alternatively, you can travel in one of the buses which will be relatively economical.

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