Museums & art galleries are the treasure houses of Indian cultural heritage & display collections of artefacts, scientifically classified transporting visitors on a quick fulfilling journey to ancient times of imperial dynasties to view for themselves the wonder that was India.
The british in the 19th century set up a number of institutions to explore & documents the wealth of material available in the country. Among these were the Archaeological Survey of India & Geological Survey of India. Simultaneously,they began to view Indian art & culture as integral tothe country's heritage & deemed it necessary to house collections in suitable institutions. Thus in 1875 the first museum, the Indian Museum was established in Calcutta.
Museums also serve as the important audio-visual means of education. The development of museums in all their ramifications is considered important as they promote national integration & international understanding.
Museums all over the country exhibits objects that range from finds at archeological sites, miniature paintings, royal memorabilai to India's fiest traditional crafts.
The National Museum in New Delhi exhibits a range from terracotta figure of the 5th & 6th centurt BC to exquisitely damascened i.e. ornamented swords of the Mughal perod.
Also in New Delhi, the Crafts Museum displays the folk art of India. Perodical exhibitions include textiles, wooden sculptures of coastal India & other thematic subjects.
Jaipur's City Palace, itselg an object of wonder, houses a collection of royal memorabilia, as do the museums in other parts of Rajasthan, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Alwar & Bundi. Each of these princely States whose rulers were great patrons of art & miniature paintings in distinctive styles of their own forms the nucleus of many a museum's treasure.
In Gujarat, the city of Ahmedabad has a sprinkling of museums, all private collections of an individual or a family. The Shreyas Museum of Folk Art, The Calico Textile Museum of Textiles, The Kite Museum, each display another facet of the rich heritage of craft traditions of Gujarat. Vadodara's museum is housed in an old palace & includes extremely rare bronze figurines.
In the north, jammu's two museums display a valuable collection of miniature paintings known as " " Pahari " or hill school. Srinagar's S P S Museum is the only place in India where one can see stone sculptures of deities executed in the distinctive style that was a hallmark of Kashmir from 7th to 11th century AD.
Bhopal's Museum revolves around the considarable tribal skill of Madhya Pradesh, the focus of which is dhokra figures, amde in the lost wax technique out of bell metal.
Pune's Raja ( Dinkar ) Kelkar Museum is the lifelong collection of one man whose theme was the celebration of everyday life in art. Inkpots, cooking vessels & betal nut crackers all display the wealth of every day art.
Hyderabad's most famous is the Salar Jung Museum again a personal collection which features priceless treasures as also whimsical objects.
Trivendram has a museum whose building is probably the most photographed edifice in the city. Objects displayed inside are exquisitely carved bronze temple fiures.
Cochin has number of museums taht were built by the Dutch as palaces & by local rulers. A small museum on the outskirts of the city is the Museum of Natural History. Sound & light show brings to life all the figures exhibited ranging from classical dancers to Portuguese traders.
Calcatta too has a museum that was the personal collection of one family at Mallick's Palace. It is impossible to give a brief account of a subject that requires a full volume itself