Snippets From History: Museums In Mumbai Preserving Centuries Of Memorabilia

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If you wish to take a walk down history, you don’t need to look for a time machine. Just walk into the closest museum and your wish shall be fulfilled.  Be it artifacts, relics of an age gone by, souvenirs belonging to famous people, a museum conserves them all and helps the public revisit them. This institution serves varied purposes from conservation to education and understanding which differ from one museum to another. But the most remarkable attribute of a museum is that it is a storyteller. Each museum narrates a tale of the treasure it holds and invites you to a mesmerizing experience that is enriching yet pleasurable.

Early museums began as private collections of either wealthy individuals or certain institutions of art and rare objects. But public access was not as easy and widespread as it is today as these museums were often for the upper and middle classes. With time public museums were founded all over the world. India’s oldest museum is the Indian Museum established in 1814 in Kolkata.

Though our culturally thriving city may not house the oldest museum of the country, it boasts of several famous museums which house memorabilia from various fields ranging from nature, history, agriculture, transport, currency and more. Where else can you found such an impressive and diverse array of museums than our multifaceted city!

Here’s a look at the notable museums preserving years of knowledge within them.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. Image by

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya: A heritage structure in Mumbai, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya was set up at the beginning of the 20th century. Earlier renowned as the ‘Prince of Wales Museum’, it was built to honor the visit of King George V to India. The foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales himself in 1905. George Wittet designed the museum using an Indo-Saracenic style of architecture and it was completed in 1915. It was however used as a Children’s Welfare Centre and a Military Hospital during the First World War. The Prince of Wales Museum was finally inaugurated in 1922 and went on to be renamed as the ‘Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya’ in 1995. This architectural beauty has an impressive Mughal white dome which was modeled on that of Golconda Fort with elements of Mughal, Maratha and Jain design. The museum has over 50,000 ancient artifacts spread across three sections which are art, archaeology and natural history. From relics of the Indus Valley Civilization, sculptures, rare miniature paintings, Nepali and Tibetan art to notable manuscripts and more, the museum holds a treasury of notable history. Do catch a glimpse of the new additions including the Krishna Gallery holding artworks related to Lord Krishna and Mumbai’s first textile gallery. The museum is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday between 10.15 am and 5.45 pm.

Where:M.G. Road,Fort.

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. Image by

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum: Formerly called the ‘Victoria and Albert Museum’, the Bhau Daji Lad Museum is the oldest museum in the city. Located at Jijamata Udyan, the museum was initially used to house the decorative and industrial arts. Dr.Buist a collector suggested the idea of establishing a museum and Dr. Ramkrishna Vitthal Lad (Dr.Bhau) planned the construction of the museum. The museum was opened in 1872 as the Victoria and Albert Museum but was renamed after Dr. Bhau in 1975. The entire construction of the museum is inspired by the Greco-Roman style of architecture and the corners of the walls and ceilings have gold adornments. The museum is managed by a public-private partnership which involves the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, the Jamanlal Bajaj Foundation and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage that have helped restore its beauty. You can find here a large number of manuscripts, maps, historical photographs of the city, silver and copper ware, costumes, fossils and so on. Do not miss the huge statute of an elephant that was brought from Elephanta Caves at the museum. Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum is open to the public on all days from 10 am to 5.45 pm.

Where: Veer Mata Jijabai Bhonsle Udyan, Byculla.

Gandhiji’s room at Mani Bhavan. Image by

Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya: This is where the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi laid the foundation for many independence movements. Gandhi held fort at Mani Bhavan every time he visited Mumbai from 1917-1934. Dedicated to Gandhi, Mani Bhavan is a Gujarati style house which cannot be missed by followers of the national leader. The building was owned by the Mani family who hosted Gandhi while he was in Mumbai. From 1955 onwards, Gandhi Smarak Nidhi has been maintaining the building as a memorial to Gandhi. Infact this is the place where Gandhiji’s tryst with the Charkha started. The three storied building contains an auditorium which displays films on Gandhiji, a photo gallery tracing his life and an extensive library comprising of Gandhi’s correspondence, articles and over 50,000 books. Historians from all over the world come to see the room in which Gandhi lived which has been preserved in the same manner till day. The museum also organizes Khadi exhibitions, various competitions for children and discussion and talks around Gandhi’s life. If you wish to revisit Gandhi’s philosophy and teaching, this is the place to visit. The entry is free and the museum is open on all days between 9.30 am to 6 pm.

Where:Laburnum Road, Gamdevi.

Bombay Natural History Society Museum. Image by

Bombay Natural History Society Museum: Founded in 1883, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) is a non-governmental organization that is wholly devoted to the conservation of nature and natural resources. It is the largest organization of its kind in the subcontinent. On display are some of the rarest and most interesting specimens and their history and evolution. BNHS is also majorly involved in research and support research efforts through grants as they believe that conservation must be based on scientific research. The museum has specimens which have been donated by various nature lovers for generations now. Naturalists, ornithologists and other scientists from all over the world come to this museum to conduct observations and researches. It is not open to the general public but nature lovers cannot give this place a miss! Acquire temporary membership to be a part of the activities here.

Where: Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Fort.

A BEST bus model at the Best Transport Museum. Image by

BEST Transport Museum: A BEST officer who had a penchant for collecting bus tickets, engines and other memorabilia set up this amusing museum after a lot of hard work. P.D.Paranjpe set up the BEST transport museum which takes you through the progression of bus design in 1984. It was initially located at Kurla’s BEST depot but was shifted to Anik Depot in 1993. The museum features miniature models of BEST buses, the ancient tram replicas and also a huge exhibit which features  representations of all the bus depots in Mumbai. Though the museum houses artifacts of an important lifeline of Mumbai – the BEST buses, little is known of this place. The entry is free and it is open to the public from Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5 pm.

Where: Anik Depot, Wadala.

Exploring the RBI Monetary Museum. Image by

RBI Monetary Museum:  Money is such a common part of our lives that we never give it much thought except when our bank balance is dipping. Ever thought of how money came into existence? The Reserve Bank of India did and that is how we got the Monetary Museum which is located in one of the older RBI buildings. A first of its kind, the museum aims at documenting and preserving the monetary heritage of the Country. India was one of the earliest issuers of coinage in the world and this museum houses some of the earliest coinage and paper currency. It has sections which cover the concept of money and how it evolved, Indian coinage, Indian paper money, curiosities and other exhibits related to money. From the first items like cowry shells used as currency to the smallest and biggest coins, the museum houses over 1,500 exhibits brought by various collectors. It also introduces you to RBI and its history, objective and functions. And you also get to learn the difference between real and fake notes, identify where a coin is minted and many such interesting details. The RBI Monetary Museum is open from Monday to Friday between 10.30 am and 5 pm and Saturday 10.30 am to 1 pm.

Where: Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road,Fort.

Which amongst these have you visited? Any that we have forgotten to include? Write to us at or comment below.

Post By Esha Verma (33 Posts)

Writing is a passion I discovered a little late. But better late than never. When not penning my thoughts, you'll find me sniffing around for good food - trying out every new restaurant in town is a hobby. I swear by Hindi films and when doing nothing of the above you'll find me troubling my pet pooch.


Esha Verma

Esha Verma
Writing is a passion I discovered a little late. But better late than never. When not penning my thoughts, you'll find me sniffing around for good food - trying out every new restaurant in town is a hobby. I swear by Hindi films and when doing nothing of the above you'll find me troubling my pet pooch.
  • Asha Bhardwaj

    Very nice information