New museums in India worth a visit

By Shrabasti Anindita Mallik

Museums serve as more than just portals to the past. They preserve the remnants of the bygone era for posterity and offer a glimpse of the country’s glorious history – be it musical, monetary, military or cultural. Here are some of India’s most unique museums.

RBI’s Monetary Museum, Mumbai

This unique museum was set up by the Reserve Bank of India to capture the journey of the monetary system in the Indian subcontinent. The interactive exhibits that range from coins and paper money to e-money allow visitors to view and understand the evolution of currency in the country over millennia. The displays also acquaint visitors with the various systems of barter, trade and commerce that flourished over the years. One of the main attractions of the museum, which also organizes informative quizzes and slide shows for children, is the coins section that displays coins dating back to the 6th century BC.

INS Kurusura Submarine Museum, Visakhapatnam

This unique museum is housed inside a real submarine! INS Kurusura Submarine, a Soviet built-I-641 class submarine, was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1969, and was decommissioned after 31 years of glorious service in 2001. The museum chronicles the milestones, achievements and services rendered by the submarine to the nation through a stellar display of artefacts, photographs and written scripts. The tour guides of the museum are retired officers of the Indian Navy who offer visitors an immersive experience of life in a submarine. Various parts of the submarine like the radar room, sonar room and control room are on display.

 

Heritage Transport Museum, Gurgaon

Take a drive down the annals of India’s transportation history at the fascinating Heritage Transport Museum, where a vintage Morris Minor serves as a reception desk, motorcycle handlebars are used as door handles and headlights are positioned as room lights. Located at Taoru, near Gurugram, Haryana, this museum is curated by automobile enthusiast Tarun Thakral and is a visual treat for all ages. From vintage cars, scooters, buses and a railway coach to bullock carts, horse carriages, palkis and a 1940 Piper J3C Cub aircraft dramatically suspended from the roof, the museum takes you through the heritage of Indian transportation, with around 2,500 vehicles and associated memorabilia on display. One of the most attractive displays at the Heritage Transport Museum is that of a 1962 Chevrolet covered in dome mirrors suspended in the atrium.

 

Sarod Ghar, Gwalior

Sarod Ghar is a haven for aficionados of Hindustani classical music. It displays instruments of some of the most iconic and illustrious figures of Indian classical music. From the sarod of renowned maestro Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan and the swarmandal (an Indianized version of the harp) belonging to legendary artist Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan to the violin of noted multi-instrumentalist Ustad Allauddin Khan and the ghungroos of kathak doyen Pandit Acchan Maharaj – this museum is a treasure trove of India’s rich artistic heritage. Musical events and live performances are regularly organized here.

The museum is housed in the ancestral home of noted sarod master and Padma Vibhushan recipient Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, the son of Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan.

 

Partition Museum, Amritsar

The Partition of 1947 is one of the most defining moments in the history of the Indian subcontinent. It not only saw the largest migration known to mankind but also affected over 150 million people. The Partition Museum, housed in the historic Town Hall building in Amritsar, comprehensively charts – through photographs, memorabilia, official documents and paintings – the events that led to the Partition and the consequences that followed. Audio-visual stations are set across the museum’s 14 galleries. The highlights of the museum are the artefacts donated by the families of survivors as well as the life-size replica of a train station and, on the platform, the objects carried by refugees on their journeys. The museum is making efforts to collect more artefacts, including oral histories, documents and footage associated with the Partition. The barbed-wire tree called Tree of Hope is the piece de resistance — visitors here are encouraged to pen down  messages of love, peace and harmony on leaf-shaped papers and hang them on the branches of the tree.

Click Art Museum Chennai

Claimed to be India’s first 3D interactive ‘trick art’ museum, it is an interactive space where the exhibits are aptly called trick art or optical art– two-dimensional images that play with the illusion of a third dimension when seen from a certain angle. Take a picture with a chimp, accept a rose from Charlie Chaplin, receive blessings from Mother Teresa or evade a kick from Jackie Chan – let your imagination run wild and free here. And unlike any other museum, visitors are permitted to touch the exhibits and even pose with them. This fun-filled museum has about 24 such engaging exhibits curated by AP Shreethar, who is an artist himself.

Kiran Nadar museum of art New Delhi

The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) is one of India’s first private art museums. When opened in 2010, it was among a handful of art centres / museums in the country where visitors could enjoy the works of celebrated artist Jamini Roy (1887-1972) and noted 20th-century sculptor Anish Kapoor under one roof. While the museum’s core collection highlights the magnificent works of 20th-century Indian painters, including those belonging to the post-Independent decades, it also equally engages in the varied art practices of the younger contemporaries. The museum showcases the works of such renowned artists as Dayanita Singh, Himmat Shah, Jeram Patel and KG Subramanyan.

Images courtesy of (Photos courtesy India Perspectives)' and (Photos courtesy India Perspectives)

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