It is common knowledge that India has a rich and varied history. What better way for history-buffs to walk down memory lane than to spend a day at a museum? Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, better known as Prince of Wales Museum, is the most popular, and perhaps the only one that comes to mind when we speak about museums. But the city is home to many other interesting, if not as famous museums as the Prince of Wales Museum. Look through our list of some of these lesser-known museums to plan your next outing to relive our rich history:
1. RBI Monetary Museum, Fort
Did you know India was one of the first countries to issue coins as currency or that the Government of India continued to issue one rupee notes till as late as 1994? Learn all of this and more at the RBI Monetary Museum in South Mumbai. Stroll through the corridors of this well preserved museum to understand how India traded with other nations during ancient times, what socio-cultural factors impacted the design of our coins and notes, and how paper money looked over half a century ago.
2. Mani Bhavan, Gamdevi
Revisit Bapu’s world at this quaint museum, tucked away in a quiet by-lane of South Mumbai’s Gamdevi. Mani Bhavan was home to Gandhi and the center of his activities, for seventeen years during the freedom struggle. It was from this very place that he initiated a phase of the Satyagraha movement and began learning to spin yarn on the charkha. A day spent at this museum will shed some light into the life and work of the Father of our Nation.
3. BEST Transport Museum, Wadala
Founded by a BEST officer and an ardent collector of memorabilia related to BEST, Mr. P.D. Paranjpe, this museum was shifted from Kurla to its current location at Anik bus depot in the year 1993. A day spent at the museum is truly a reminder of the days long gone. On display are several models of old buses and trams that aren’t in use any more. Entry to this museum is free.
4. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla
Located in the Rani Bagh compound of Byculla is the Bhau Daji Lad Musuem, formerly called the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is the oldest museum in the city, with its origins dating back to 1855. Among the wonders housed at this museum are a 17th century manuscript authored by Hatim Taiand and a large monolithic structure of an elephant made of basalt .
5. Nehru Science Centre, Worli
The Nehru Science Centre is often overlooked by most tourists today, but it’s one site that you just shouldn’t miss. Located next to Haji Ali , the center is a celebration of scientific curiosity and discoveries. The museum boasts of several scientific demonstrations and models on sound, energy, mechanics, and transport, just to name a few. It also offers numerous interactive features as well.
6. Nehru Centre, Worli
Nehru Centre houses Mumbai’s only planetarium and it has the sole aim of educating and inspiring the study of astronomy and outer space. It regularly organizes astro-quiz, astro-poetry and science elocution contests. The centre also hosts the Discovery of India permanent exposition that tell the tale of the evolution of our nation. It also houses an art gallery and culture wing. The Nehru Centre is well-known for its amazing horticulture exhibits with various species of plants displayed all over its compound.
7. Western Railway Heritage Gallery, Churchgate
While pushing your way through the dense crowd during rush hour at Churchgate station, have you ever stopped to think about the long history of the railways in India? Not many people are aware, but the historic building actually contains a heritage gallery dedicated to the Western Railways. The next time you commute by train, take some time to stop over at the museum to admire its exhibits that include century-old train models, brass bells, whistles and more.
8. Bombay Natural History Society, Colaba
Located in the aptly-titled Hornbill House , in Colaba, is the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), a museum exhibiting diverse specimens of flora and fauna. It is also home to a special specimen of the now-extinct pink-headed duck, among many other spectacular rare species. The museum also works towards marine and land conservation programs. Download the Cleartip app to sign up for a museum tour that includes BNHS and several others in its itinerary.
9. Gatehouse Navy Museum, Ballad Bunder
Opened in the year 2005, this museum is located close to the naval docks in Ballad pier. It serves as a tribute to Mumbai’s maritime history. Albeit small, it exhibits some great artifacts of the city’s history at sea. The collection includes compasses, wooden models of ships, old photographs, and lots more.
10. National Gallery of Modern Art, Colaba
Housed in the erstwhile Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Public Hall, the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) is a museum focused on art and sculpture. It boasts of varied collections by renowned artists like M.F. Husain and Pablo Picasso. Along with the artistic collections, it also accommodates a large library and several halls that regularly host theatre programs.
The fact that Mumbai has so many museums is a testament to the city’s loyalty to art, culture, science and history. The next time you have a day free or have relatives and friends visiting, make sure to include some of these lesser-known museums on your itinerary.