Museum in Bhuj
is the oldest museum of Gujarat
. It initially formed part of the School of Art established by Maharao Khengarji III, which was founded on 1 July 1877. The museum was earlier also known by name of Fergusson Museum. At the time of Maharao Khengarji III's marriage on 19 February 1884 many new items were received and for exhibition of which, a need for new building was necessitated.
As such, on 14 November 1884, the foundation stone for the present museum building was laid by the Governor of Bombay, Sir James Fergusson and named Fergusson Museum after him by Maharao of Cutch. The building consisting of 2 floors cost Rs. 32000. The museum, constructed in the Italian Gothic style, is located in the picturesque surroundings on the bank of Hamirsar Lake
just opposite to the Nazar Bagh Garden. It was designed by the state engineer Mc Lelland and local builders known as Mistris of Kutch. The museum remained the preserve of the Maharao of Cutch, till 1948, who showed it only to his personal guests.In those days museum was opened to the public only on important religious occasions.
The museum has the has the largest existing collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions, dating to the 1st century AD. The oldest Kshatrap inscription found in Andhau and the only Gujarati Abhir inscription of the 3rd century are the main attractions. It also has examples of the extinct Kutchi script (now the Kutchi language is mostly written in the Gujarati script) and an interesting collection of coins, including the kori, Kutch's local currency till 1948. This museum has almost 11 sections. The archeological section has Indus seals. Different kinds of stone tablets are available also. The painting showing the different vocations of Kutch are on the display. There is also an excellent section which covers classical and musical instruments like Nagfani, Morchang etc. put on the display of the museum.
A section of the museum is devoted to tribal cultures, with many examples of ancient artifacts, folk arts and crafts and information about tribal peoples.The museum also has exhibits of embroidery, paintings, arms, musical instruments, sculpture and precious metalwork.Thus the museum broadly contains, a picture gallery, an anthropological section, an archeological section, textiles, weapons, musical instruments, a shipping section, and even stuffed animals.
On the ground floor of the museum, in the centre room, ‘Airavat’ is displayed. ‘Airavat’ is a carved, wooden, snow white Indian elephant with seven tusks. ‘Airavat’ was prepared in Mandvi
in the 18th century, in the worship of Tirthankar. The rest of its body is painted with flowers. The Indian Government issued a postal stamp in 1978, depicting this ‘Airavat’, under the postal series `Treasures of Museum'.
The oldest museum of Gujarat also has the distinction of being the first museum of India
to go on line in 2010. Now, all that you need to have a look at the treasures of the Kutch textile museum is an Internet connection. And an online museum is not the same as having a website. It’s like taking a walk through the museum but on the Internet.