Definitely one of Kolkata’s priced possessions, Indian Museum, founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Kolkata in the year 1814 is India’s largest and the oldest museum, and one of the oldest in the world. It is to this museum that the country owes all its 400-something museums for this was the remarkable first one in the country which paved the way for many others to get built. The founder and curator of this museum was a Danish botanist named Dr Nathaniel Wallich. If you are a History buff and the likes of 4000-year old mummies and skeletons interest you, then you have to pay a visit to witness the rare collection of fossils, skeletons, mummies, ornaments, and Mughal Paintings that its houses and preserves.
The museum has six sections – Art, Anthropology, Archeology, Economic Botany, Zoology, and Geology; and 35 galleries. Dr. B. Venugopal is the current Director of the museum.
Sir William Jones created the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784, which, in turn, gave birth to the Indian Museum. The zoological and anthropological segments resulted in Zoological Survey of India in 1916, which further aided in the formation of the Anthropological Survey of India in 1945.
The museum as a whole is dope to those in love with all things old and unique, however, a few things that must be seen (once in a lifetime at least) are the 4000-year old Egyptian mummy, the Buddha’s ashes, the Buddhist Stupa from Barhut, the Ashoka Pillar, fossil skeletons of prehistoric animals, and a collection of meteorites.
The museum also a section of children’s books, publications of the Indian Museum comprising replicas and photographs, bulletins, art albums, catalogues, and picture postcards. You are allowed to take photographs inside the museum for a nominal fee of INR50 for handheld cameras and INR100 for cameras which use tripods and stands (without any additional lighting). Indian Museum also carries out three types of training programs annually – in-service museum training course, short course in museum studies, and practical training within the museum for the post-graduate students of the Department of Museology, Calcutta University. The museum also has a vast library which is mainly used by the curators for research and development, however, it also allows access to students and scholars upon obtaining a membership for INR50 as an annual fee. (Timings: 10:30 am to 4:30 pm except Sundays and second Saturdays of each month).
Indian Museum is located just a few steps from Part Street Metro Station - Gate 1. Taking the metro to Park Street is the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to get to the museum. You can also hire a metered taxi or a bus if it suits you. If you pick a hotel in Sudder Street or around, Indian Museum is at a walking distance.