Blogging is not just about discovering places and writing about the same. Sometimes, it helps you clear your biggest misconceptions too. Many a time, we believe that our side of the story is correct until we come across facts that prove us wrong.
Prior to 09.02.2020, if someone would have asked me to name the oldest museum in Mumbai, my prompt answer would have been the of Wales Museum (Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrhalay). But on 9th February, after I wrapped up my visit to Kalaghoda, I was suprised (or should I say shocked) to know that I was wrong all the time. I was on the open air bus and the anchor told me that there’s another museum which is older than CSMVS and gave me the location. Thus began another interesting journey in to the past of the megapolis.
Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla
Sharing its premises with the Veer Jijamata Udyaan (Byculla Zoo), Byculla East, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum is the oldest museum in Mumbai. Established in 1855 as the Victoria and Albert museum, this was later renamed to honor Dr Bhau Daji Lad.
Nearest rail head is Byculla Station on the Central Line. Once you get down here, ask for the zoo location. Tickets cost Rs. 10. Photography is allowed for a change, but no flash photography.
Lord Elphinstone established the Central Museum of Natural History, Economy, Geology, Industry and Arts, the first museum in Bombay in 1855; George Buist took the major initiative for its inception. In 1857, it was closed to the public and its collection was shifted to the Town Hall. In 1858, George Birdwood was appointed curator of the museum. Soon, a committee was formed, comprising him, Bhau Daji Lad and Jaganath Shunkerseth to raise money for construction of a new building for the museum. The foundation of the new building was laid in 1862. It was built with the patronage of many wealthy Indian businessmen and philanthropists like David Sassoon, Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy and Jaganath Shunkerseth.
The construction of the present building in Jijamata Udyan in Byculla started in 1862 and was completed in 1871. The museum was opened on 2 May 1872. In 1975, this museum was renamed as the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum.
In 2003, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in collaboration with the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai undertook extensive refurbishment of the building.
After five years of painstaking and intensive work, the Museum reopened to the Public on 4 January 2008.
Founders of the museum
Inside the museum
The museum is divided in to two parts – The ground floor contains all the exhibits related to the day to day usage of common man. These includes the crockeries, jewelries and the industrial equipments used in those days. The exhibits have been labelled and gives us an insight in to how the people used go about their work in those days. Many potteries, industrial equipments like the knives, sickle and so on are on exhibit. The ground floor also holds the special project space (that holds exhibitions from the artists)and the museum cafe and shop from where you can buy some memorabilia.