Saturday, June 25, 2011

Government Museum, Egmore

On a one day visit which monument to be covered was a big dilemma for me, when i had been to attend my friends silver jubilee marriage celeberation.  The ideal location seemed to me the Govt Museum located at Egmore.  My friend was pleased to arrange for a drop to the museum so that i could make a quick trip of the same.  What strikes me with the collection galore in the museum seems to represent only 10% of the salvage of the monuments unearthed during the british East India company reign.  90% of the collection seems to have either smuggled or in some private collectors museum.

History of the Museum :  The proposal to start a museum was mooted by Sir Henry Pottinger ( Governor ) and sactioned by the board of directors of  East India company.  In January 1851, Dr Edward Balfour was appointed the first officer in charge of the Museum.  The original museum was located in Fort St George, but in 1854 it was re located to the current premises Panthenon or public assembly rooms where the elite group congregrated.

The original property Panthenon belonged to Hall Plumer, a civil contractor, and it spread over 43 acres of land.  It was handed over to a committee in 1793, which sold to E.S. Moorat in 1821, an US merchant, who inturn sold it the british govt in 1830 for Rs 28,000.  The current market value of the land itself would be more than 2000 crores.  The building was used like a club for ball dances, celeberations, banquets and dramatics. 

In 1853 a public library was planned, and it was thrown open to public in 1862.  Captain Mitchell under the governor Lord Connemera extended the library with full of collections and huge storing racks made out of teak wood. 

In 1854, the premise housed a cheetah and a tiger, which attracted huge pile of tourists from far and wide, thus the germinated to have a zoological park, which developed into 360 nos of animals and reptiles and birds Museum Zoological Garden.  In 1863 the muncipality took over and shifted it to People's Park, which is located in Guindy.

An acquarium was a naturally compliment to the zoo, which was thrown open to public in Oct 1909, which gained immense popularity.  During the second world war, an impending threat of Japanese attack stripped the entire Museum of its collection of Acquarium and antiquities.  The entire premise house the army and their arsenal, and artefacts and important collections were shifted or siphoned off.  The huge sculptures of Amravathi was retained in the premises.

The museum celebrated centenary in Nov 1951, which was attended by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru.  A new building for birds was opened in 1963.  Later in 1984 a seperate building for contemporary arts was thrown open.  In April 1988 a childrens Museum was inaugrated.  In 2001, Dichroic Halogen Lamp system was installed for the arts gallery which had pleasing visual appeal and helped in preserving the paintings. 

The collection of the museum include a huge whale skeleton procured from Mangalore.  Other important collections include bronze statues from south india, Amravathi sculptures, Armoury from Thanjavur, gold coins from the chola period, Prehistoric collections, artifacts from Arikamedu, Buddhist and Jain sculptures.

Overall the Museum can be classified into 8 broad section of collections from the past.  They are Archaeology, Art, Anthropology, Numismatics, Zoology, Botany, Geology and Childrens Museum.

General Information :

Holiday :  Fridays and all National Holidays

Timing   : 9.30 am to 5.00 pm

Enterance Fees :   Rs 15/    Adult
                               Rs 10/-   Children
                               Rs   5/-   Students

                               Rs250/-  Foreigner ( 5 $ )
                               Rs125/-  Children
                               Rs  75/-  Students

Camera Fees        Rs200/-

Videocamera        Rs500/-

The best part of the museum is that there is a book stall which sells lot of books for collectors in various fields.  It will be good buy for personal library, i happened to get hold of at least 4 books which is worth its price, which is very reasonable. 


Team G Square said...

Thanks for sharing about this place . Museum are fine places to enrich ourself with history .

Murali Krishnan said...

My favorite place at this museum is the Connemara library. I recollect my college days, when I visit the library for studying, collecting info, and taking notes. Such an amazing place with excellent atmosphere without being flashy.


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