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Art From Us MUSEUM GUIDE : National Museum of Art, New Delhi

Art From Us presents a must-see Museum Guide daily, where we showcase specific artworks in specific museums – from across the globe. Today, for Art From Us, Museum Guide the spotlight is on the National Museum of Art, New Delhi.

For Museum Guide, we bring to you a selection of Museums and specific spaces, rooms, exhibits and hangs within them that we find impressive, highlighting works from the collection that are worth exploring and knowing.

National Museum of Art, Museum Guide No. 744

One of the largest museums in India, the National Museum in New Delhi, is also known as the National Museum of India. It was established in 1949. The museum holds a variety of articles ranging from pre-historic era to modern works of art. Notably, the museum has an impressive 200,000 works of art, both of Indian and foreign origin, covering over 5,000 years!

History and Inception

It was the winter of 1947-48, in London. The roots of the National Museum begin with There was an exhibition of Indian art and artefacts at the Royal Academy in London. At the end of the exhibition, the exhibition curators had decided to display the same collection in India before returning the artefacts to their individual museums.

The success of the exhibition that was shown at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in 1949, led to the decision to the formation of a permanent National Museum. On the historic 15 August 1949, the National Museum was formally inaugurated by the then Governor-General of India, C. Rajagopalachari. It was decided that until a permanent home could be found for the collection, it would continue to be housed at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

The foundation of the present museum building was laid by Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, on 12 May 1955. The museum opened to the public formally on 18 December 1960.

The first phase of the iconic building was formally inaugurated by Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the Vice President of India, on December 18, 1960. The second phase of the building was completed in 1989.

Initially the Museum was looked after by the Director General of Archaeology until 1957, when the Ministry of Education, Government of India, declared it a separate institution and placed it under its own direct control. At present, the National Museum is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

The museum is administered and funded by the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism.

The Esteemed Collection

Over the years Museum continued to grow its collection through gifts collected painstakingly, and meticulously. The artefacts were collected through its Arts Purchase Committee. As mentioned earlier, the Museum presently holds approximately 2,00,000 objects of a diverse nature. The collection is a rich amalgam of both Indian as well as foreign, and its holdings cover   a time span of more than five thousand years of Indian cultural heritage.

The collections of the National Museum covers several departments. It represents almost all disciplines of art: Archaeology (Sculptures in Stone, Bronze & Terracota), Arms, Armour, Decorative Arts, Jewellery, Manuscripts, Miniatures and Tanjore Paintings, Textiles, Numismatics, Epigraphy, Central Asian Antiquities, Anthropology, Pre-Columbian American and Western Art Collections.

The collection includes the famous figurine of the Dancing Girl from the Harappan civilization and the iconic Toy cart from Mohenjo-Daro. Additionally the museum showcases artefacts from the Maurya, Gupta and the early medieval era. The museum has a rich collection of over 17,000 miniature paintings.

The collection boasts of various creative traditions and disciplines which represents a unity amidst diversity. It is an unmatched blend of the past with the present and strong perspective for the future, brings history to life.

The Museum is located in the heart of the National Capital Region- on Janpath Rd, near the  Central Secretariat.

 The museum is open from 10.00 AM 6:00 PM and closed on Mondays.

Want to know more about this Museum and others, explore our Archive for Museum Guide

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