Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai – rediscovering the Mumbai glorious past

Not many people knows that Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum located next to the city’s botanical gardens and zoo in Byculla East, is the oldest museum in Mumbai.

Lord Elphinstone established the Central Museum of Natural History, Economy, Geology, Industry and Arts in 1855 as the Victoria and Albert Museum for the decorative and industrial arts.

The construction of the present building in Jijamata Udyan, Byculla East was started in 1862 and was completed in 1871 and was opened on May 2, 1872 as Victoria and Albert Museum. It was renamed as Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum in 1975, in honor of Bhau Daji.

Some interesting things to know:

  1. The museum gives a glimpse into Bombay (now Mumbai) origins and development in the 18th, 19th and early 20th century through dioramas and models.
  2. It is one of the rare British-era buildings in India to combine Palladian and High Victorian architecture.
  3. The museum was the first public institution built to honor Queen Victoria.
  4. The Museum is managed by a public-private partnership, a first for a cultural institution in India. The partnership involves the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, the Jamanlal Bajaj Foundation and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
  5. Lying in slumbers for some time, the museum was renovated between 2003 to 2007 and restored to it’s old glory.
  6. In 2005 the museum received the highest award in conservation – UNESCO’s Asia Pacific Heritage Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
  7. The highlight of the museum are the rich decorative interiors which gives a feel of a royal palace.
  8. Outside the museum is the monolithic basalt elephant sculpture dated 540 CE which was recovered from the sea.Two of these stone sculptures once stood at the gates of Elephanta Island. It is said that in 1864 the Britishers unsuccessfully tried to carry the elephants back to England and the crane broke and shattered one of the sculptures. Only one of the two sculptures survived and was reintegrated by Sir George Birdwood, then the curator of the museum.
  9. Outside the museum, in front of basalt elephant sculpture, there is one unique huge cannon with 16 holes for firing.

Exterior pictures of museum :

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Museum view from outside

 

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Monolothic basalt elephant and unique canon with 16 firing holes

 Interior pictures of museum :

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Interiors of the museum

The Star of David, a design element on the museum’s roof is an ode to its Jewish benefactor – David Sassoon.

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Upper story of museum

 

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Crafted pillars and arches

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Crafted pillars

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Inside view of Museum

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First floor view

Pictures of sculptures on display:

 

Swords and knives on display:

 

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19 Kg suit of Armour on display

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Ivory Boat

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Ivory Bullock cart

Tips:

  1. Timings: Thursday to Tuesday, 10.00 am to 6.00 pm. Closed on Wednesday.
  2. Every weekend (Sat and Sun) free public tour is organized with the
    curatorial team .
  • 11:30 am English Tour
  • 12:30 pm Hindi/Marathi Tour
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