The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, is the main museum in Mumbai, formerly Bombay. It was founded in the early years of the 20th century by prominent citizens of Bombay, with the help of the government, to commemorate the visit of the then prince of Wales. It is located in the heart of South Mumbai near the Gateway Of India. The museum was renamed in the 1990s or early 2000s after Shivaji, the founder of Maratha Empire. The museum building is built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, incorporating elements of other styles of architecture like the Mughal, Maratha and Jain. The museum building is surrounded by a garden of palm trees and formal flower beds.
In 1904, some leading citizens of Bombay decided to provide a museum to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales, the future King George V. On 22 June 1904, the committee passed a resolution saying: "The building should have a handsome and noble structure befitting the site selected, and in keeping with the best style of local architecture". The foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales on the 11 November 1905 and the museum was formally named "Prince of Wales Museum of Western India". On 1 March 1907, the government of the Bombay Presidency granted the museum committee a piece of land called the "Crescent Site", where the museum now stands. Following an open design competition, in 1909 the architect George Wittet was commissioned to design the Museum building. Wittet had already worked on the design of the General Post Office and in 1911 would design one of Mumbai's most famous landmarks, the Gateway of India.
The museum collection comprises approximately 50,000 artefacts. The collection of the museum is categorized primarily into three sections: art, archaeology and natural history. The museum also houses a forestry section, which has specimens of timbers grown in the Bombay Presidency (British India), and one exhibiting a small local geological collection of rocks, minerals and fossils. The Maritime Heritage Gallery,which displays objects relating to navigation, is the "first of its kind in India". In 2008, the Museum installed two new galleries, displaying the "Karl and Meherbai Khandalavala collection" and "the Coins of India".
The art section displays the collections of Sir Purushottam Mavji, acquired in 1915, and the art collections of Sir Ratan Tata and Sir Dorab Tata, donated in 1921 and 1933 respectively. The museum's miniature collection encompasses representations of the main schools of Indian painting namely, Mughal, Rajasthani, Pahari and Deccani. It features palm leaf manuscripts dating to the 11th-12th centuries to the early 19th century pahari paintings, as well as paintings from the Sultanate period. Notable manuscripts housed in the museum include the Anwar-Suhayli painted in Mughal emperor Akbar’s studio and a 17th Century manuscript of the Hindu epic Ramayana from Mewar.
Natural History section
The Bombay Natural History Society aided the Museum Trust in creating the natural history section. The museum's natural history section makes use of habitat group cases and dioramas, along with diagrams and charts, to illustrate Indian wildlife, including flamingoes, Great Hornbill, Indian bison, and the tiger.
As part of renovation project initiated in October 2008, the "Krishna Gallery" holding artworks related to the Hindu god Krishna, a Hindu deity of the preserver-god Vishnu, was opened in March 2009. A textile gallery, the first gallery in the city, is going to be opened in April 2010. It will illustrate "various techniques of textile manufacturing, regional collections and traditional Indian costumes".