Let me begin with a warning that it is a long post but mainly because of lots of images.
My niece wanted to know more about the Harappan civilization for her project… She asked me lets google about it! I thought why not explore the biggest museum in the city and it may perhaps have some interesting artifacts. So we decided to visit the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (earlier known as the prince of wales museum) and almost 40ºC ambiance did not deter us.
Since there was some time for the museum to open, we decided to visit the philately desk in the GPO and shopped for a while. On the way to Kala Ghoda we saw many interesting colonial era gothic/ neo-gothic buildings… Well that is another exploration but let me add some bonus images here
Well the museum building itself is a grade1 heritage structure designed by architect in George Wittet in Indo-Saracenic style in an open competition in 1909. It was used as a military hospital initially and also for children’s welfare exhibitions. It was thrown open to public in 1922. A grand Buddha art installation greets you immediately after you cross security and ticketing gate.
I absolutely loved the sculptures section. It has artifacts from Gandhar, Mirpurkhas to Odisha carved beautifully in different styles and materials. Also engravings from various political kingdoms carved in different scripts.
There are huge European paintings as well as amazing miniatures in different schools. I loved the storytelling in Tibetan buddhist paintings. Lithographic collection has some interesting visual documentation of Mumbai city and the Konkan coast in 17-18th century. The museum has recently opened a gallery of art dedicated to Bhagwan Krishna.
And then came the Pre and Proto history section where we found amazing artifacts from the Harappan civilization and glimpses of the Assyrian civilization too … going back perhaps three thousand years in time almost.
Tatas have gifted many artifacts from their personal collection … oriental artifacts, ceramic statuettes, paintings and weapons too. Luxury articles and mughal weapons are highlights of these collections.
Then we came to the textile section which was not very big perhaps compared to specialized textile museums but it had glimpses of various art traditions from India. My niece Saee enjoyed trying her hand at block print design a lot… such activities add an element of interactivity and play to the experience and must be encouraged a lot more. The natural history section is another larger than life experience too, I am sure it would help kids to understand the animal world better. For the shopping enthusiasts as well as book lovers there is plenty to check out in the museum shop.
The museum annexe also hosts some traveling exhibitions. We were fortunate to see William Gedney’s India
On the whole I would rate the visit a completely exciting learning experience.