Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum has transformed from the oldest museum in Mumbai to a vibrant hub for the arts. Here’s all you need to know.
Do you love Indian ceramics? I do and just presumed that we always knew how to make them. Haven’t we being seeing beautiful pieces of Jaipur pottery forever? That notion, however, was dispelled when a friend and I attended a pottery workshop at Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
It began with an introduction to the pottery pieces on display at the museum, after which our motley group was told how Indian pottery once used to have only the natural colour of earth. It was purely functional in nature in the form of pots to store water or grains.
As Indians were introduced to the brilliant dyes and glazes that Persians used and elegant designs that Europeans created, we began combining traditional pottery making skill with foreign techniques to produce scintillating pieces of decorative art.
I could laud Bhau Daji Lad Museum just for holding workshops like this that help people appreciate Indian art and culture better. Its outreach program includes live performances by musicians, open air displays of works by well-known and yet-to-be-discovered artists, public lectures, storytelling sessions for children, public screening of art house movies, and several other such programs that they run in association with other institutions.
But there’s more. The museum’s permanent collection includes miniature clay figurines, dioramas (miniature models), maps, lithographs (a method of printing from a metal or stone surface), photographs, and rare books that document the life of the people of Mumbai and the history of the city from the late 18th to early 20th centuries.
If you’ve ever been to ‘Maximum City’, you can’t help but be curious about the different people and cultures that have coexisted here from the ‘Parsi bawa’ to the ‘Gujju bhai’. If you’ve not, this is the best place to be introduced to different people who call themselves ‘Mumbaikars’.
From a replica of Mumba Devi, after whom the city is named (read this post to know more) to models of Lord Vishnu’s ten forms or Dashavatar (read this to know more), it gives you a brief glimpse of Hindu beliefs as well.
After you’re done with these, you could step on to the lawns on the ground floor where there’s usually an open air display of photographs and sculptures of various artistes. There’s also a café, which has a limited selection of snacks, and a Museum shop, which has a collection of calendars, paperweights, bags, table top showpieces, paper cut work envelopes, and photographs.
Without going gaga, Bhau Daji Lad Museum is a true celebration of ordinary Indian people and their daily lives. It’s cheerful collection and ambience make it unlike most other museums I have seen – the concerned architects, curators, workers, and caretakers should take a well-deserved bow.
- Carry a bottle of water as the tour can take quite long
- Visit early to avoid crowds and the heat – the main museum isn’t air-conditioned though certain other sections, the shop, and the cafe are
- Visit the Museum’s website for workshop details, which they announce in advance
- The Museum even offers a one year course – Post Graduate Diploma in Modern & Contemporary Indian Art & Curatorial Studies
FOOTNOTE : I know a Mumbaikar’s life is very hectic and distances are what they are, but you just need to find the time to visit this Museum. It’s a pity if your children don’t get to enjoy it. And the bonus – Mumbai’s zoo called Byculla Zoo or Jija Mata Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan & Zoo is right next door!
For more info on the Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, here is the Wikipedia link
WHERE IS BHAU DAJI LAD MUSEUM AND HOW TO GET THERE
The Museum is in Byculla in Mumbai. It shares the premises with the Byculla Zoo mentioned above.
You could take a train to Byculla station and walk down from there. If you’re on the Central Railway network, get out of the station, cross the road and take a left – it’s a 5 minute walk.
If you’re on the Western suburban train network, get off at Mumbai Central and take a taxi.
WHEN IS IT SHUT / OPEN AND TIMINGS
The Museum is shut only on Wednesdays and certain public holidays.
It’s open from Thursday to Tuesday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm, with the last ticket sold at 5.30 pm
WHAT IS THE ENTRANCE FEES
Entrance fees ranges from free to 10 rupees for Indian Nationals and free to 100 rupees for international tourists.
Free public tours are conducted every Saturday and Sunday by a member of the curatorial team. You don’t need to register beforehand – just enquire at the Ticket Counter for details or to sign-up.
11:30 am – Tour in English
12:30 pm – Tour in Hindi/Marathi
An audio guide is also available in Hindi, Marathi, and English
Guided group tours: Groups may book themed tours on request – not available on Wednesdays.
Registrations must be made at least 2 weeks in advance. The tour focusses on the history, development and cultural heritage of Mumbai. Interpretive tours of the Museum’s temporary special exhibitions can also be booked.
Duration: 1.5 hours. Cost: Rs 500 per participant for Indian nationals. Rs. 600 per participant for foreign nationals. Min. 6 participants. Museum Entry fee is included. Language: English, Hindi and Marathi
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org /+91 22 23731234
Not available on Wednesdays as the Museum is shut
Workshops for individuals:
All workshops are pre-registered (registrations must be made at least 2 weeks in advance) and include an interactive discussion focused on a particular display or collection, followed by an associated creative activity.
Duration: 2 hours. Cost: INR 500 per participant. INR 6000 (for 12 participants) must be paid in case of a smaller group. Materials provided.
Workshops for schools: Available on request. Registrations must be made at least 2 weeks in advance.
Duration: 2 hours. Cost: Free for BMC schools and NGO’s. For private schools or CSR groups: INR 150 per student. For ‘Colours and Shapes’ workshop: INR 75 per student. Materials are provided.
Language: English, Hindi and Marathi
Contact: email@example.com /+91 22 23731234