Indian Museum: A Comprehensive Guide to the Oldest and Largest Museum in India

Indian Museum
Indian Museum

The Indian Museum, located in the heart of Kolkata, is the oldest and largest museum in India. Established in 1814 by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the museum has been a beacon of knowledge and culture for over two centuries. It houses an impressive collection of over 100,000 artifacts, ranging from ancient fossils to contemporary art, and attracts millions of visitors each year. In this article, we will take a closer look at the Indian Museum and its fascinating exhibits.

History of the Indian Museum

The Indian Museum was founded by Sir William Jones, an English philologist and Orientalist who was the founder of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. The society was established in 1784 with the aim of promoting the study of ancient languages, literature, and the culture of Asia. The idea of a museum was proposed in 1796, but it was only in 1814 that the museum was opened to the public.

Initially, the museum was housed in the Asiatic Society’s building on Park Street, but it soon outgrew its space, and a new building was constructed on Chowringhee Road. The current building, which is an architectural masterpiece, was inaugurated in 1875 by Lord Lytton, the then Governor-General of India. Over the years, the museum has undergone several renovations and expansions, and today it is a sprawling complex spread over 10,000 square meters.

Exhibits at the Indian Museum

The Indian Museum boasts a vast collection of artifacts from different parts of India and beyond. The exhibits are spread over 35 galleries, each dedicated to a particular theme or era. Here are some of the must-see exhibits at the Museum:

  1. Egyptian Gallery: This gallery houses a collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including mummies, pottery, and jewelry. The highlight of the gallery is the sarcophagus of an Egyptian princess, which dates back to 800 BC.
  2. Archaeology Gallery: This gallery showcases the rich archaeological heritage of India, from the prehistoric period to the medieval era. The exhibits include stone tools, pottery, and sculptures from different regions of India.
  3. Zoology Gallery: This gallery is home to a vast collection of animals, birds, and insects from India and other parts of the world. The exhibits include a skeleton of a blue whale, which is one of the largest animals in the world.
  4. Anthropology Gallery: This gallery showcases the diverse cultures and traditions of India’s indigenous communities. The exhibits include masks, costumes, and handicrafts from different tribes and regions of India.
  5. Art Gallery: This gallery houses a collection of paintings, sculptures, and other art forms from different parts of India and the world. The exhibits include works by famous artists such as Raja Ravi Varma and Abanindranath Tagore.

Apart from these galleries, the Museum also has a library, which houses over 100,000 books, journals, and manuscripts, and a botanical garden, which has a collection of rare and exotic plants.

Visiting the Indian Museum

The Indian Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays and national holidays. The entry fee for Indian citizens is Rs. 20, and for foreign nationals, it is Rs. 500. The museum also offers audio guides and guided tours for visitors, which can be booked at the ticket counter.

Tips for Visiting the Indian Museum

If you are planning to visit the Museum, here are some tips to help make your visit enjoyable and memorable:

  1. Plan your visit in advance: The Indian Museum is a large and complex museum with a vast collection. It is a good idea to plan your visit in advance by checking out the museum’s website, identifying the exhibits you want to see, and figuring out how much time you will need.
  2. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes: The Museum is spread over multiple floors and covers a large area. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that will allow you to walk around without getting tired.
  3. Carry water and snacks: There are no restaurants or cafes inside the Museum. Carry a bottle of water and some snacks to keep yourself hydrated and energized.
  4. Hire a guide: If you want to get the most out of your visit to the Indian Museum, consider hiring a guide. A guide will help you navigate the museum and provide you with valuable insights into the exhibits.
  5. Observe the rules: The Museum has some rules that visitors need to follow. For example, flash photography is not allowed, and visitors need to obtain a permit before taking pictures. Observe these rules to avoid any inconvenience.
  6. Don’t rush: The Indian Museum has a vast collection of exhibits. Don’t rush through the museum, take your time to appreciate and explore the exhibits.
  7. Visit during weekdays: The Museum can get crowded during weekends and holidays. If possible, visit the museum during weekdays to avoid the rush.
  8. Be respectful: The Museum is a place of great historical and cultural significance. Be respectful towards the exhibits and the other visitors.

By following these tips, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit to the Indian Museum.


In conclusion, the Indian Museum is a must-visit attraction in Kolkata for anyone interested in history, culture, and art. With its vast collection of exhibits ranging from fossils and antiquities to art and textiles, the Indian Museum offers visitors a glimpse into India’s rich and diverse heritage. From the Egyptian mummy and the dinosaur fossils to the exquisite paintings and sculptures, the museum has something to offer everyone.

Visiting the Indian Museum can be a rewarding experience, but it is important to plan your visit in advance and follow the rules. By doing so, you can make the most of your visit and appreciate the museum’s vast collection of exhibits.

Overall, the Museum is an essential stop for anyone visiting Kolkata, and its exhibits will leave you with a greater appreciation for the art, history, and culture of India.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Indian Museum

What is the Indian Museum?

The Museum is located in Kolkata, India. It was founded in 1814 and is the oldest and largest museum in India.

What are the timings of the Indian Museum?

The Museum is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed on Mondays and on national holidays.

What are the entry fees for the Indian Museum?

The entry fees for the Museum vary for Indian citizens and foreigners. For Indian citizens, the entry fee is Rs. 20. For foreigners, the entry fee is Rs. 500. However, there are different rates for students and groups.

What are some of the must-see exhibits at the Indian Museum?

Some of the must-see exhibits at the Museum include the fossil gallery, the Egyptian mummy, the Buddha Gallery, the Indian art gallery, and the Tibetan gallery.

Is photography allowed inside the Indian Museum?

Photography is allowed inside the Museum, but there are some restrictions. Visitors are not allowed to use flash photography or tripods. They also need to obtain a photography permit before taking pictures.

Is there a guided tour available at the Indian Museum?

Yes, there is a guided tour available at the Museum. Visitors can hire a guide at the entrance for a fee.

Is the Indian Museum wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the Museum is wheelchair accessible. There are ramps and elevators available for visitors with disabilities.

Are there any restaurants or cafes inside the Indian Museum?

No, there are no restaurants or cafes inside the Museum. However, there are many food options available nearby.

Is the Indian Museum worth visiting?

Yes, the Museum is definitely worth visiting. It is a treasure trove of Indian history, art, and culture. It offers a unique and fascinating insight into India’s rich past and is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, art, or culture.

What is the best time to visit the Indian Museum?

The best time to visit the Museum is during the winter months, from October to March. The weather is pleasant during this time, and there are fewer crowds. It is also a good idea to visit the museum on a weekday to avoid the weekend rush.

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