The Mind-Boggling Exhibits of the Indian Museum

Nathaniel Wallich

Nathaniel Wallich

A wonderful attraction that people may visit as part of their Kolkata tour package is the Indian Museum. Established in 1814 by a curator, named Nathaniel Wallich, it is among the largest and most well-stocked museums in India. Its exhibits cover the fields of archaeology, art, anthropology, geology, zoology and botany and each section has numerous galleries.

Indian Museum, KolkataAs visitors enter the archaeology section in the main entrance gallery, they see clay and stone sculptures from the Sunga and Mauryan periods. The Pre and Proto Historic Gallery here contains an array of excavated artefacts belonging to the Harappan era. Stone and brick pieces, salvaged from the ruins of buildings in Bodh Gaya and those built during the Sunga period are also displayed here. They show beautifully carved circular, animal and human designs on walls or pillars. Also part of the archaeology section are stone and bronze sculptures from the Gandhara School and those from the Kushana, Chandela, Pallava, Gupta, Hoysala and Chola periods. Coins from 5th century BC to present times, terracotta, pottery and other daily used objects as well as an Egyptian mummy is also kept here.

Art and Anthropology

The Art area has numerous paintings from the Persian, Mughal, Deccan, Rajasthani and Pahari schools. People here can also see art from Bengal, represented in a palm leaf, manuscripts and works by many artists including Rabindranath Tagore and his brothers. The Decorative Arts and Textile Gallery displays pottery, bronze, brass, ivory, jade, silver, copper-wire, damascene and bidri objects. Handkerchiefs, sarees, bedsheets and carpets from various parts of India are also exhibited here. Its South East Asian area shows porcelain, textile, ivory carvings, gilded bronze, painted wood and cloth paintings from China, Japan, Myanmar, Java, Tiber and Nepal. The Palaeo area of the Anthropology gallery displays the changes in the skeleton to educate people about the evolution of man. Its cultural sub-division tells visitors about the physical attributes, economy, languages and cultures of people living in different geographical regions of India. Masks, worn by the locals of West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Odisha, Bhutan and Papua New Guinea are also worth seeing as are numerous musical instruments.

Geology, Zoology and Botany

Fossils of the ancestors of various vertebrates including ancient horses, pigs, cows and those of dinosaurs enchant visitors in the Shivalik sector of the Geology Gallery. The Invertebrate sector has fossils of arthropods, corals, ammonites, Brachiopoda, gastropods, fish, snakes and plants of the pre-historic Gondwanaland. While in this area of the building, people can also see different types of rocks and minerals from across the country and the world. Models of several marine creatures like sharks, rays, rohu, saw fish, catla, betta and hilsa are displayed in the fish part of the Zoology sub-division. Likewise the amphibian and reptile part exhibits different species of snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles. Ducks, pelicans, peacocks and other indigenous and foreign birds are kept in another area of this part. The Zoology sub-division also has fake mammals across different species and in different ecological settings. Last, but not the least, the 8 bays in the Botany section educate people about timbers, food products, vegetable fibres, medicinal plants, oils and oilseeds from India. Other specimens here relate to paddy, sugarcane, papers and what they are made from, shola products, silk products, crude drugs, dyes and tans.

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