Museums in Delhi: The museums in Delhi are an excellent starting point to learn more about the history of India and the complexities of the country. They’re not even stalled and full! Many offer an interactive experience in a wide variety of subjects, from handicrafts to rail transport. Here’s our pick of museums in Delhi. Note that government museums are closed on Mondays.
The 9 Best Museums in Delhi
- National Museum
The National Museum of Delhi is one of the largest museums in India. This huge museum was established on the Independence Day of India, August 15, 1949. Since then, it has accumulated over 210,000 objects, covering 5,000 years of incredible Indian heritage and culture. A large part of the collection displays artifacts from the Indus Valley Civilization (also known as the Harappan period) dating back to 2,500 BC.
There are also paintings, sculptures, art, coins, manuscripts, armor, and textiles from important periods of the history of India. Other highlights include three newly renovated galleries dedicated to the tribal lifestyle of Northeast India, musical instruments, and wood carvings. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except for Mondays. Tickets cost 20 rupees for Indians and 650 rupees for foreigners (including an audio guide). The nearest metro train stations are Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhawan.
- National Crafts Museum
India’s Ministry of Textiles runs the village-themed National Crafts Museum, which provides an excellent insight into India’s distinctive handicrafts. It is an interactive museum divided into three parts – a village complex with 15 styles of rural dwellings, an indoor gallery, and live crafts exhibits by various pan-India artisans every month. Their goods are also available for purchase. The gallery section houses about 33,000 objects, including textiles, handicrafts, paintings, and sculptures.
There is also a contemporary cafe (Cafe Lota) on the premises, which serves delicious Indian cuisine with regional flavors. Opening hours are from 10 am to 6 pm daily except Mondays. Tickets cost Rs 20 for Indians and Rs 200 for foreigners. The museum is located next to Purana Qila. The nearest metro train station is Supreme Court (Pragati Maidan).
- Sanskriti Museums
The Sanskriti Museum in South Delhi is another must-see place for fans of indigenous arts and crafts. The peaceful campus on the premises of the Sanskriti Foundation is made up of the Museum of Everyday Art, the Indian Terracotta Art Museum, and the Museum of Indian Textile Traditions. Together, the collection contains approximately 2,000 functional Indian household items, 1,500 terracotta items from the tribal areas of India, and 450 textile items. Regular handicraft workshops are also organized on campus. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Mondays. Admission is free. The nearest metro train station is Arjan Garh.
- National Rail Museum
One of the top things to do in Delhi with kids and a delight for railway enthusiasts, the National Rail Museum showcases the history of rail transport in India. Its extensive exhibits include old locomotives, wagons, carriages, armored trains, model trains, signaling equipment, telecommunication systems, antique furniture, uniforms, photographs, and documents from the princely states of India.
Entry tickets cost Rs 50 for adults and Rs 10 for children during the week. Prices go up to Rs 100 for adults and Rs 20 for children on weekends and government holidays. Diesel and steam simulators, virtual 3D coach rides, and train joy rides require separate tickets.
- Kranti Mandir Museum Complex
The renovated British barracks of the Red Fort house four new museums dedicated to India’s freedom fighters. The museum complex, known as Kranti Mandir (Kranti Mandir), was inaugurated in January 2019. It covers 160 years of Indian history leading up to India’s independence from British rule. These include the First War of Independence of 1857, the Indian National Army of Subhas Chandra Bose, India’s participation in World War I, and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar.
One of the museums, Drishikala Sangrahalaya, is in association with Delhi Art Gallery. It houses more than 450 rare historical works of art such as paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, Amrita Sher-Gil, Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, and Jamini Roy. In addition to a ticket to the Red Fort, a ticket is required to visit the complex. The price is Rs 30 for Indians and Rs 350 for foreigners.
- Gandhi Smriti
This museum is a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, who is revered as the Father of the Nation in India. It is located in Birla House, where Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life before being assassinated by a religious extremist on January 30, 1948. He was shot during the evening prayers at the spot where the Martyrs’ Pillar now stands.
Other attractions at the museum include the room where Gandhi stayed, his personal belongings (the pocket watch, which was discontinued at the time of his death), film footage, art, and a small shop selling khadi clothing ( Homespun cotton, promoted by Gandhi during the independence movement). Opening hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Mondays and admission is free. The nearest metro train station is Lok Kalyan Marg.
- National Gandhi Museum & Library
For an in-depth look at the life and principles of Mahatma Gandhi, head to the National Gandhi Museum at Raj Ghat. This extensive museum houses photographs, sculptures, artwork, spinning wheels, personal belongings, commemorative items such as stamps, and models of the various cottages where Gandhi lived.
Notably, the Martyrs Gallery houses the blood-stained clothes worn by Gandhi when he was assassinated, one of the bullets that killed him, and the urn that carried his ashes for immersion. There is also a library with about 40,000 publications. The museum is open daily except for Mondays from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and admission is free.
- Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum
Indira Gandhi, India’s first female prime minister, was also assassinated, and her residence was turned into a museum. Known as the “Iron Lady”, she was involved in a number of controversial historical decisions that led to her being shot by two of her bodyguards on October 31, 1984. The museum provides a look into her life and the development of India when she was in power.
Exhibits include photographs of the nationalist movement and the powerful Nehru-Gandhi political family, the family’s personal property, and the saris Indira Gandhi wore when she was killed in her garden. Opening hours are from 9:30 am to 4:45 pm daily except Mondays and admission is free. The nearest metro train station is Lok Kalyan Marg.
- Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Museum of Performing Arts
This lesser-known museum is maintained by India’s National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama, and houses a collection of over 2,000 objects related to the performing arts. The 600-odd musical instruments from across India are a highlight. They are divided into wind, string, and percussion instruments.
On display are rare instruments such as the Kachhava Sitar from North India and the Getu Vadyam from Tamil Nadu in South India. Tell the museum in advance if you want to see the impressive collection of puppets and masks. Opening hours are from 9:30 am to 6 pm. on weekdays, and admission is free. The nearest metro train station is Mandi House.