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Kolkata Museum

   A multipurpose and multi disciplinary institution of national importance, the Museum was established at the Asiatic Society, the earliest learned body in the country on 2nd February 1814. Transferred to the present building in 1878 with two galleries, the Museum has now over sixty galleries of Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Botany sections, spreading over ten thousand square feet area. Many rare specimens both Indian and Trans - Indian origin relating to Humanities and Natural Science are preserved and displayed in the galleries of these sections. The administrative control of the cultural sections, viz Art, Archaeology and Anthropology rests with the Board of Trustees under its Directorate, and that of the three scientific sections is with Geological Survey of India, Zoological Survey of India and Botanical Survey of India.

The Museum Directorate has seven co-ordinating service units such as Preservation, Publication, Photography, Presentation, Modelling, Education and Library. Indian Museum is an autonomous institution fully funded by the Department of Culture, Government of India.

Founder Curator was Dr. Nathaniel Wallich - a botanist landing at Sreerumpore, (original name: Frederischnagor) near Calcutta, India, from Copenhagen, Denmark. From 1814 - 1878 it was at the Asiatic Society of 1,Park Street, Calcutta.

The Art collection of the Indian Museum comprises of miniature paintings, textiles, decorative art objects from Asian countries -- China, Japan, Nepal, Tibet, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Java and Kampuchea. Muslin and Jamdani from Dhaka, Baluchari textile of Murshidabad, Phulkari of Punjab, Chamba rumal, Persian carpets, Kanthas of Bengal, ritual robes, wood carving, metal images, ivory, lacquerware, bronze, ornaments; Persian, Mughal, Rajasthani, Pahari, Deccani miniature paintings, manuscript illustrations of Western and Eastern India, Bengal school paintings, Nepalese and Tibetan temple banners.

This South-East Asian Art Gallery consists of three bays comprising the collections of Chinese-Japanese art, Burmese art and Nepalese-Tibetan art.
In the gallery of Chinese-Japanese art, decorative art objects are shown, ranging from the 17th to the 19th century. The elegant-shaped porcelains with their splendour of colour; the delicate ivory-carvings and carved vases made out of rhinoceros horn; landscape paintings; lacquered wine-cups used in the New Year ceremony; damascened stirrup, snuff and scent bottles are some of the important exhibits that give an idea about the elegance and charm of the Chinese-Japanese art.

The tradition of art in Burma, Nepal and Tibet contains an impact of the Indian art tradition. Nevertheless in technique and local variations, the artistic trends of these adjacent countries show their own distinctive features. The two major religions of India viz., Buddhism and Brahmanism offered a rich repository of subject matter to the artists of these countries. Burmese specimens exhibited here are of the nature of applied art objects viz., lacquered work, woodcarving, ivory, silverwork, nellocuts, brass and bronze figures and works of embroidery. These objects belong to a comparatively late period and are assigned to the 18th-19th century. The important pieces displayed here are lacquered objects depicting Jatakas and scenes of the Ramayana or the bridal procession of the princess of Vaisali from India to King Anaratha of Pagan, silver bowls depicting Jatakas, embroidered-Kalaga wooden figures, ivory figures and chess-set, and so on.
In the Nepalese-Tibetan Bay a few bronze images and woodcarvings extending in date from the 9th-10th century to the 18th-19th century have been displayed. Special mention may be made of the bronze image of Siva belonging to the 9th-10th century and wooden figure of Salabhanjika of the 15th-16th century, both from Nepal and bronze figures of Yamantaka and Aryavalokitesvara, yab-yum figures of Samvara with Sakti and Hevajra with Sakti from Tibet. The ritual objects - phur-bu (magic dagger), incense-burner, butter-lamp and a set of ornaments and bone-apron made of human bones are equally noteworthy.
 

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