3 Mumbai Museums You Don’t Want to Miss

For a bustling metropolis like Mumbai, there are way too few museums in the city. I’ve always felt so. However, as time passed by and the city grew into me, I came to understand that the subtle fusion of old and new lies within the streets, houses and even people of Mumbai, and under such circumstances the guardians of history, as someone aptly called museums and galleries, become rather irrelevant. Even so, the city is home to some interesting museums, and I take real joy in visiting them either alone or with my husband and kids. When we have guests, we also make sure to take them to at least one of these places, and it’s always a big success. If you’re planning a trip to the city of dreams, here are three Mumbai museums I wouldn’t recommend to miss.

  Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Formely known as the Prince of Wales Museum,  Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is the largest and most significant museum of Mumbai. It opened its doors to the city dwellers and guests in the year 1922, and has been a bustling cultural hub ever since. The imposing edifice of the museum is something to rest your eyes upon, and I always make sure to savour its architectural delights before going inside. Here you’ll see the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture at its best, with a magnificent central dome in  the middle of a cluster of smaller domes,  elegant arches and arch-shaped windows,  mighty pillars and intricate stonework.

 Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya - the largest of the Mumbai museums

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya – the largest of the Mumbai museums

The museums comprises more than 50 thousands exhibits, divided between the art, archaeology and natural history sections. Real delights of the art section lie within its exhibitions of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, Mughal and Rajasthani paintings, ancient manuscripts, textile and ivory. I often find myself lost among the European paitings, donated to the museum by Sir Ratan Tata. There is also a beautiful collection of arms and armour, which is really something to say for a pacifistic person like me. Here you’ll find finely adorned armour of the Mughal emperor Akbar dating back to the 16th century and many other interesting artefacts.

 Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya  Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya  Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

In the Archaeological section there are lots of precious sculptures  created over the time span of 17 centuries in different regions of present day India. Many believe that it’s the realm of sculpture where the Indian art has been thriving in its full power, and I’m inclined to think so too. Apart from countless statues, there are also ancient artifacts from the  Indus Valley Civilization.

 Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

 The Natural History section gives one a vivid idea of rich and diverse wildlife in India, though, to be honest, all those stuffed mammals, reptiles and birds are simply not my cup of tea. But my kids find them interesting. My younger daughter Alexandra keeps begging me to visit again and see the cross section  of a cat with all the organs on display 🙂

 Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Address of the Museum : 159-161 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort, Mumbai – 400023, Maharashtra, India.
Timing: 10.00 am to 6.00 pm (Monday to Sunday)
Tickets: Rs. 70 (Adults) Rs. 35 (Students) Rs. 20 (Kids)

Website Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Suggested readEuropean Oil Paintings of Prince of Wales Museum (Mumbai)

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Originally called the Victoria and Albert Museum, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum is the oldest museum in Mumbai. It’s conveniently located near the Byculla zoo (known as Victoria gardens in pre-independence era), so both the sites can be clubbed  up as a day out, especially if you go with your little ones. The museum was established in the middle of the 19th century and the idea behind setting it up was to celebrate the city in vast diversity of its traditions and merging cultures. Unlike the spectacular building of the Prince of Wales Museum,  the exterior of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum is rather simple and plain. But wait until you step inside! The charming combination of gold and turquoise green, the symmetric rows of elegant columns, the marble sculptures and fantastic ceiling design will take your breath away! I would go as far as to say it’s the most captivating interior in the whole city.

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

The interior of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Splendid view from the staircase

The museum comprises a huge collection of clay models that allow one to see what the dwellers of Mumbai had been up to from the 19th century till early 20th century. Elaborate dioramas showcase different communities and professions, farms and villages, indoor and outdoor games, schools and workshops. Among the exhibits of the museum you can also see old photographs of Mumbai, pottery, brass ware, weaponry and ivory, water colors and woodwork.

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Address: 91 A, Rani Baug, Veermata Jijbai Bhonsle Udyan, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marg, Byculla East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400027
Timing: 10.00 am to 6.00 pm (Monday to Sunday)

WebsiteDr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

You may also likeMy cultural shock: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum

CST Heritage Gallery & Railway Museum

If you marvel at the splendid building of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which I consider the most beautiful railway station in the world, you’ll love their heritage museum. Formerly known as the Victoria Teminus, or simply VT,  the iconic building stands where the history of the Indian railway originally began. Visiting this museum is the only way to explore the magnificent structure from within. From its beautiful central dome to the Star Chamber, elegant spiral staircase, stained glass windows, fine jaali work, lovely sculptures and majestic doors, the grandeur of the CST’s interior is a sight to behold. Besides this, in the galleries of this museum you’ll find model trains, old timetables and tickets, brass bells and commemorate postage stamps. The history of the Indian Railways is well documented here in the forms of carefully selected exhibits.

Recommended for youHeritage Museum in Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Mumbai)

The ticket to the museum

A scale model of the CST

Exhibits

The view of the dome from the ground floor

Stained-glass windows

Fragment of the facade

Fragment of the facade

The central dome with the Statue of Progress on the top

Timings: 3 pm to 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Tickets:  Rs 200 for adults and Rs 100 for students

What other bloggers have to say about Mumbai museums:

ICONIC CST MUMBAI – THE NUANCES YOU DO NOT KNOW 

THE BHAU DAJI LAD MUMBAI CITY MUSEUM

Prince of Wales Museum – The Best Museum Mumbai has to Offer
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3 Mumbai Museums you Don't Want to Miss

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8 thoughts on “3 Mumbai Museums You Don’t Want to Miss

  1. Hey Antonino.. nice blog post!! Have been to Mumbai so many times .. infact completed my education from this city and have never been to these museums .. great!!

    • Thanks, Rupam, I really enjoy sharing my museum findings around India, and these three from Mumbai hold a special place in my heart. I’m glad you liked them.

  2. Rene Mumbai has too few museums. I feel we need museums for far many things here, in this huge sprawling place. And Byblos the way, you should also visit the National Museum Of Indian Cinema.

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