Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh

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Government Museum & Art Gallery
Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh.
Chandigarh Architecture Museum, Sector 10-C
Chandigarh Architecture Museum


The Government Museum & Art Gallery is designed by the Swiss born French architect, Le Corbusier.[1]

Historic listing and information: The Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh is part of the series of three museums of Unlimited Growth designed by Le Corbusier, the other two being Sanskar Kendra, Ahmedabad and Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. It houses the collection of sculptures, miniature paintings, modern and contemporary art, textiles, decorative art, coins, manuscripts and pottery. The museum has also been declared a Grade-I heritage building by the Chandigarh Administration within the ambit of the Chandigarh Master Plan 2031.[2]


Architects, design and the construction dates: Architect Le Corbusier, Founder MS Randhawa, Associates Architect MN Sharma, Pierre Jeanneret and Shiv Dutt Sharma. Design 1960-62 Construction: 1962 - 1967 Inauguration May 6, 1968.

Ownership: Chandigarh Administration, Union Territory.

Current and future use of the building: The building is a Museum and Art Gallery and will continue to remain as one with expansion in collection through art acquisition programs. Envisaged as a vehicle for transmission of knowledge in the Second Five Year Plan of India and the National Education Policy, it continues to serve as a unique cultural and historical resource for the region and beyond. Being a leading museum of the region with an extremely significant collection of Gandhara sculptures, Pahari miniature painting and contemporary Indian art, it sees visitation by tourists, artists, scholars and students. Researchers, Architects and scholars on Le Corbusier and Modernism are also frequent visitors to the building and its surrounding ensembles to study its architectural and aesthetic values as it represents the series of museums designed by Le Corbusier based on the Unending Spiral and Unlimited Growth. Its majestic proportions, supported on gigantic pilotis give it a floating effect and the building represents the ‘arrival of modern’ in India. The pivoted entrance metal paneled door, built in and fixed furniture and display systems, exposed concrete sculpturesque gargoyles are symbolic of the prevailing style of Chandigarh’s architecture. The mural in the museum reception area executed by one of India’s finest contemporary artists, Satish Gujral is a beautiful ceramic work that adds colour to the otherwise stark exposed concrete building. The museum library is a rich repository of books on subjects of art, architecture and history of art. A special section is dedicated to Dr MS Randhawa, containing archival records of his correspondence on the making of Chandigarh, available to scholars in a digitized version. The adjacent auditorium serves as a lecture hall for extended activities of the museum such as lectures, film screenings and cultural events. The interior detailing of the modest auditorium lives up to the Modernist tradition that was introduced in Chandigarh by Le Corbusier-bold building forms that represent the functional requirements of interiors and efficiency thereof.

The building is divided into three levels. The first level is 33,000 sq.ft comprising the Deputy Curator’s office, museum shop, reception, washrooms, textile section, child art gallery, exhibition hall, reserve collection stores, conservation laboratory and auditorium. Level 2 is 23,000 sq.ft and comprises exhibition space for sections on Gandhara sculpture, Indian miniature paintings, stone and metal sculpture, coins and Indian contemporary art. Level 3 is 6,500 sq.ft and has the library, Chairman’s room, and Gandhara sculptures’ reserve collection store.

Public access policies: The museum serves as a means of dissemination of knowledge and repository of cultural history of the region. It is a vehicle for transmission of this knowledge for all age groups especially school children and youth from the region as well as researchers and academics from national and international organisations. The museum is a non profitable organisation under the Chandigarh Administration.  It is open for public from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 4.40am, and is closed on Mondays and national holidays. The entry ticket is Rs 10/- and camera ticket is Rs. 5/-. It has a free entry for organised school groups and senior citizens. Facilities such as wheel chairs for the physically challenged are provided. The auditorium is available on a low fee for cultural and educational events as is also the exhibition hall for temporary exhibitions to artists. The Library opens for readers during museum hours.[3]


The beginning of the collection can be traced to the partition of the country in 1947 when 40% of the collection of the Central Museum, Lahore became the share of India. A significant part of this share was the Gandhara sculptures. Over a period of time, Dr MS Randhawa added Pahari Indian Minaiture paintings and modern and Indian contemporary art, so that by the time the collection was displayed in the current building designed by Corbusier, it was at par with the leading museums of north India. The collection can be divided into the following heads

Gandhara Sculptures[edit]

Bodhisattva Maitreya, c. 2nd century AD, Gandhara

The museum has many different sculptures of Buddha. In some sculptures Buddha has long open hair, while in some he has a mustache with curled hair lock. In earlier days the followers of Buddha used to worship symbolic representations of Buddha. These representations included representative foot print of Buddha or a chakra. Later, when the followers wanted to portray Buddha in human form they portrayed him in a beautiful greek God like form. This can be attributed to the Indo-greek influence in that era.

Hariti, c.2nd century AD, Gandhara
Buddha, c. 2nd century AD, Gandhara

Metal Sculptures[edit]

Stone Sculptures[edit]



Decorative Art[edit]



Modern and Indian Contemporary Art[edit]

Buddha and the other divinities, c. 2nd century, Gandhara


Natural History Museum, Sector 10, Chandigarh

Chandigarh Architecture Museum, Sector 10, Chandigarh

National Gallery of Portraits, Sector 17, Chandigarh

International Dolls Museum, Sector 23, Chandigarh


External links[edit]