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The National Museum, New Delhi, as we see it today, has an interesting beginning.

The blueprint for

establishing the National Museum in Delhi was prepared by the Maurice Gwyer Committee in May
1946. An Exhibition of Indian Art, consisting of selected artefacts from various museums of India was
organized by the Royal Academy, London with the cooperation of Government of India and Britain.
The Exhibition went on display in the galleries of Burlington House, London during the winter
months of 1947-48. It was decided to display the same collection in Delhi, before the return of
exhibits to their respective museums. An exhibition was organized in the the RashtrapatiBhawan
(Presidents residence), New Delhi in 1949, which turned out to be a great success. This event
proved responsible for the creation of the National Museum.

The success of this Exhibition led to the idea that advantage should be taken of this magnificent
collection to build up the nucleus collection of the National Museum. State Governments, Museum
authorities and private donors, who had participated in the exhibition, were approached for the gift
or loan of artefacts, and most of them responded generously.

(Click here to see the gifts from various donors to the National Museum).

On August 15, 1949, the National Museum, New Delhi, was inaugurated in the Rashtrapati Bhawan
by Shri R.C. Rajagopalachari, the Governor-General of India. The foundation of the present building
was laid by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, on May 12, 1955. The first phase of
the National Museumbuilding was formally inaugurated by Dr. SarvepalliRadhakrishnan, the Vice
President of India, on December 18, 1960. The second phase of the building was completed in 1989.

While the Museum continued to grow its collection through gifts that were sought painstakingly,
artefacts were collected through its Arts Purchase Committee. The Museum presently holds
approximately 2,00,000 objects of a diverse nature, both Indian as well as foreign, and its holdings
cover a time span of more than five thousand years of Indian cultural heritage.

The National Museum was initially looked after by the Director General of Archaeology until 1957,
when the Ministry of Education, Government of India, declared it a separate institution and placed it
under its own direct control. At present, the National Museum is under the administrative control of
the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

Vision & Mission

The vision / motto of National Museum is

To collect art objects of Historical, Cultural and Artistic significance for the purpose to display,
protection, preservation and interpretation (research).
To disseminate knowledge about the significance of the objects in respect of history, culture and
artistic excellence and achievements.

To serve as cultural centre for enjoyment and interaction of the people in artistic and cultural

To serve as epitome of national identity.

The conservation laboratory of the National Museum has made immense efforts to become one of
the most superior laboratories in the conservation and restoration of art objects. Initially, its main
task was to look after the large collection of the National Museum, but now it also serves other
institutions such as the Raj Bhawans and other public agencies in identification examination. It also
performs actual restoration on oil paintings and art works. Besides keeping the vast and varied
collection in a good state of preservation as per international standards the laboratory engages in
research and capacity building programmes also.

Conservation Project

The laboratory carries out regular surveys of art objects of different departments, and gives
treatment on a priority basis to the objects that need it. Materials of a delicate nature such as palm
leaves, parchment, paper, miniatures, painting, textiles and oil paintings as well as harder
substances such as metal and their alloys, stones, terracottas, ceramics and wall paintings are
treated according to the internationally accepted principles of conservation. Some of the major
conservation projects being currently undertaken include:

National Project of restoration of oil paintings of non- Indian origin and other works of art: The
project was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India in
1985. They carried out surveys, documentation and conservation of the oil paintings and other
artefacts of non Indian origin in various Raj Bhawans and havelis. This body was later strengthened
by two or more centres one at National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property,
Lucknow and another at Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta.

Conservation of Wall Paintings at Jhala Haveli, Rajasthan: The laboratory took up the job of
treating the wall paintings of Jhala Haveli, Kota, Rajasthan. The work has been completed
successfully and these paintings, after mounting, were displayed in the galleries of the National

Young Museum Audiences

The National Museum constantly aspires to be a highly interactive space catering to the needs of
multiple audiences. To generate interests towards History and Arts among the young audience, the
National Museum has undertaken to offer various educational programmes. These programmes
provide a chance to our young viewers to learn about the museum, while making the process
entertaining and fun.

We conduct activities around temporary exhibitions, and also have permanent regular activities. The
regular activities are organised twice a year and called Playtime at the National Museum . All the
educational Programmes are facilitated by experienced personals from the sector of Museums and

Playtime at the NM: This is the summer and winter program at the museum that organises many
workshops and activities in the premises over the months of May and June.

A Day at the Museum: This program aims to enabling school groups to benefit from the museum in a
planned and engaging manner. It is an effort to stimulate childrens thoughts by interactions and
engagements with trails and workbooks created around various museum objects. Pre-booking is
mandatory to avail of this program.

Gallery Sheets, Trails and Teachers Resource Packs: The museum website offers downloadable
gallery worksheets, gallery trails and teachers resource packs which could be utilised while visiting.
These can be downloaded from the links below...... These are also available at the museum shop for
a reasonable price.

Yuva Saathi: Under the Yuva Saathi program, trained volunteers are available to take you around the
galleries and make the museum-visit more meaningful and fun. . Pre-booking is mandatory to avail
of this program. For more details, please follow the link here...

Some of the Temporary Activities organised in the past:

Touch and Learn: Students are offered a chance to touch an object in the reserve collection and
know more about it.

Stories from Central America: One of the story-telling sessions organised in the Pre-Columbian

How to Look at Miniatures: A Talk for students from age group of 13 17 years as an orientation to
understanding Indian Miniatures.
Meet Ancient Potters: A Play with Clay workshop under the guidance of specialised artists. Pottery
patterns and Pattanam was organised around the temporary exhibition, Unearthing Pattanam.
Around the same exhibition, other activities like Young Archaeologists and Ancient Traders were also
conducted for children.