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. The museum houses approximately 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from foreign lands, categorized primarily into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History. The museum houses Indus Valley Civilization artefacts, and other relics from ancient India from the time of the Guptas, Mauryas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakuta.
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 June 22, 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".Press Information Bureau: Union Ministry of Culture (September 5, 2008). "Union Ministry of Culture give Administrative approval for 12.43 crore Rupees for Modernization of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai".
On March 1, 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.
Dancing Krishna, from the Nepal-Tibet section. Nepal, 18th Century AD. The headphone symbol at the foot of the image indicates that the artefact is part of the audio tour. The museum provides an audio tour in six languages to visitors.
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.
Sculptures and coins transferred from the Poona Museum in Pune and the collections of the Bombay branch of the Royal Asiatic Society resulted in the development of an archaeological section, with precious sculptures and epigrams. The Indus Valley Culture Gallery houses fishing hooks, weapons, ornaments and weights and measures from the Indus Valley Civilization (2600–1900 BCE). Artefacts from the excavation of the Buddhist stupa of Mirpurkhas, were housed in the Museum in 1919. The sculpture collection holds Gupta (280 to 550 CE) terracotta figures from Mirpurkhas in Sind of the early 5th century, artefacts dating to the Chalukyan era (6th-12th century, Badami Chalukyas and Western Chalukyas), and sculptures of the Rashtrakuta period (753 – 982 CE) from Elephanta, near Mumbai.
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". Matrika Design Collaborative is currently designing the museum's Indian Miniature Painting Gallery. The content developed for the gallery will be converted into Braille text and tactile labels for the blind with help from designers, fabricators and consultants from the Hellen Keller Institute