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Indian Museum

Indian Museum
Established 1814
Location Chowringhee - Kolkata, India
Type Museum
Collection size 1,02,646 (as on March 31, 2004)[1]

The Indian Museum (Bengali: ভারতীয় যাদুঘর) is the largest and oldest museum in India and has rare collections of antiques, armour and ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and Mughal paintings. It was founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, in 1814. The founder curator was Dr Nathaniel Wallich, a Danish botanist.

It has six sections comprising thirty five galleries of cultural and scientific artifacts namely Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The present Director of the Indian Museum is Dr. B. Venugopal.[3] The museum was closed to the visitors due to massive restoration and upgrades from 1 September 2013 to 3 February 2014.[4][5]


  • History 1
  • Collections 2
  • Museum Gallery 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The Indian Museum is originated from the Asiatic Society of Bengal which was created by Sir William Jones in 1784. The concept of having a museum arose in 1796 from members of the Asiatic Society as a place where man-made and natural objects could be collected, cared for and displayed. The objective began to look achievable in 1808 when the Society was offered suitable accommodation by the Government of India in the Chowringhee-Park Street area.[6]

The Indian Museum ca 1905

In February 2, 1814, Dr Nathaniel Wallich, a Dutch botanist, who had been captured in the siege of Serampore but later released, wrote a letter supporting the formation of a museum in Calcutta which he said should have two sections - an archaeological, ethnological and technical section and a geological and zoological one.[7] The Museum was created, with Wallich named the Honorary Curator and then Superintendent of the Oriental Museum of the Asiatic Society. Wallich also donated a number of botanical specimens to the museum from his personal collection.[8]

After the resignation of Dr Wallich, curators were paid salaries ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 200 a month. Until 1836 this salary was paid by the Asiatic Society but in that year its bankers, Palmer and Company became insolvent and the Government began to pay from its public funds. A temporary grant of Rs 200 per month was sanctioned for maintenance of the museum and library, and Dr J. T. Pearson of the Bengal Medical Service was appointed curator followed shortly by Dr John McClelland and after his resignation by Edward Blyth. In 1840, the Government took a keen interest in the geology and mineral resources and this led to an additional grant of Rs 250 per month for the geological section alone. A new building became a need and this was designed by Walter R Granville and completed in 1875 for the cost of Rs 1,40,000.[9] In 1879 it received a portion of the collection from the India Museum (South Kensington) when that collection was dispersed.[10]

The Zoological and Anthropological sections of the museum gave rise to the Zoological Survey of India in 1916, which in turn gave rise to the Anthropological Survey of India in 1945.[11]


The Egyptian human mummy about 4,000 yrs old at Indian Museum.

It currently (2009) occupies a resplendent mansion, and exhibits among others: an Egyptian mummy, the Buddhist stupa from Bharhut, the Buddha's ashes, the Ashoka pillar, whose four-lion symbol became the official emblem of the Republic of India, fossil skeletons of prehistoric animals, an art collection, rare antiques, and a collection of meteorites.

Museum Gallery


  1. ^ Comptroller & Auditor General of India report No. 4 of 2005 (Civil) of CHAPTER III : MINISTRY OF CULTURE, p: 31
  2. ^ Government of India, Ministry of Culture, ANNUAL REPORT 2008-09 p. 27
  3. ^ "Indian Participants - National Council of Science Museums." N.p., n.d. Web.
  4. ^ "::: Indian Museum :::." ::: Indian Museum :::. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2013.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "History of Indian Museum". Website of the Indian Museum. Ministry of Culture, Government of India. 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "History of Indian Museum (second page)". Website of the Indian Museum. Ministry of Culture, Government of India. 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Official website of Indian Museum,Biography of Nathaniel Wallich
  9. ^ Anon. (1927) A short guide to the Indian Museum. Calcutta
  10. ^ Desmond, Ray (1982) The India Museum 1801-1879 Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, ISBN 0-11-580088-3
  11. ^ "Appendix K: The Anthropological Survey of India (The Andamanese by George Weber)". 2005-09-10. 

External links

  • Official Website
  • History of Indian Museum
  • Don Bosco Museum

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