The Indian Museum is the oldest and most prominent museum in the Asia-Pacific region. Founded in 1814, it has become an icon of the Indian culture and heritage scene, drawing thousands of national and international visitors every year. Its opening also served as an inspiration to Indian historians and curators, spawning the growth of more than 400 museums across India.
Millenniums of Indian History and Culture
The Museum houses two specific sections: cultural and scientific. The cultural section contains art, archeology and anthropology galleries, while the scientific section contains botany, geology and zoology galleries. A tour of the exhibits will take you on a journey through thousands of years of Indian history as you explore Asian tribes, pottery, sculptures, jewelry, masks, Terracotta, deities and musical instruments.
One of the most interesting and popular exhibits at the Indian Museum is a 4,000-year-old mummy. India is not known to be the home of mummies, so the mystery behind the arrival of this artifact contributes to its allure.
From the Tomb of Kings to Calcutta
The mummy's arrival at the Indian Museum in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, can be traced to the British colonial period of the early 1800s. According to an 1834 issue of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, it was a gift from Lieutenant E.C. Archbold, a British officer, to the Society of Bengal, founders of the Indian Museum. Apparently, it was originally located in the Tomb of the Kings in Gourna, Egypt and was sent by boat to what was then Bombay and then to Calcutta, its final destination. Confirmation comes from an 1882 listing of museum attractions which included the mummy.
If you are a lover of history and ancient art, a trip to the Indian Museum in Kolkata should definitely be on your list of venues to visit. I have it on my list of places to go next time I'm in India.