|Location||Chowringhee - Kolkata, India|
|Collection size||1,02,646 (as on March 31, 2004)|
The Indian Museum (Bengali: ভারতীয় জাদুঘর) is the largest 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 Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Economic Botany. This multipurpose Institution with multidisciplinary activities is being included as an Institute of national importance in the seventh schedule of the Constitution of India. It is one of oldest museums in the world. This is an autonomous organization under Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The present Director of the Indian Museum is Dr. B. Venugopal. The museum was closed to the visitors due to massive restoration and upgradation from 1 September 2013 to 3 February 2014.
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.
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. Wallich offered his services to the Society and some items from his own collections.
The Society heartily supported the proposal and resolved to set up a museum and to appoint Wallich to be the Honorary Curator and then Superintendent of the Oriental Museum of the Asiatic Society. Dr. Nathaniel Wallich took charge of the Museum on June 1, 1814. The Museum thus inaugurated, thrived rapidly under the guidance of its enthusiastic founder Wallich and individual collectors. Most of them were Europeans except a solitary Indian, Babu Ramkamal Sen, initially a Collector and later the first Indian Secretary to the Asiatic Society. Wallich was not only the enthusiastic founder and the first Curator of the Indian Museum, he was one of the largest donors to the Museum at its inception. Out of one hundred seventy four items donated to the Museum till 1816, Nathaniel Wallich donated forty-two botanical specimens.
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. In 1879 it received a portion of the collection from the India Museum (South Kensington) when that collection was dispersed.
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.
- Comptroller & Auditor General of India report No. 4 of 2005 (Civil) of CHAPTER III : MINISTRY OF CULTURE, p: 31
- Government of India, Ministry of Culture, ANNUAL REPORT 2008-09 p. 27
- "Indian Participants - National Council of Science Museums." Ncsm.gov.in/TenderDoc/Announcement%20Brochure%20India.pdf. N.p., n.d. Web.
- "::: Indian Museum :::." ::: Indian Museum :::. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2013.
- "History of Indian Museum". Website of the Indian Museum. Ministry of Culture, Government of India. 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- "History of Indian Museum (second page)". Website of the Indian Museum. Ministry of Culture, Government of India. 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- Official website of Indian Museum,Biography of Nathaniel Wallich
- Anon. (1927) A short guide to the Indian Museum. Calcutta
- Desmond, Ray (1982) The India Museum 1801-1879 Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, ISBN 0-11-580088-3
- "Appendix K: The Anthropological Survey of India (The Andamanese by George Weber)". 2005-09-10.
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