Bhau Daji Lad Museum – Go there for the Renaissance Revival Architecture

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Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City museum is an integral part of Mumbai’s museum scene. It is the oldest museum in Mumbai, established in 1872. At that time, it was known as the Victoria and Albert museum.

Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Bhau Daji Lad Museum

In 1975, the museum was renamed after an eminent physician, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad (1822 – 1874). He had keen interest in archaeology and his role was pivotal to secure funds for the museum construction work from philanthropists and Indian businessmen like David Sassoon and Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy. Later, Bhau Daji Lad would become the founder of the museum.

Founder - Dr. Bhau Daji Lad

Founder – Dr. Bhau Daji Lad

The Architecture

The museum was in a neglected condition over the many years that followed. Its structure and some of the museum objects were considerably damaged. After 4 years of restoration work in collaboration with the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the museum was restored to its present state in 2008. The ownership rights for the Bhau Daji Lad Museum continue to remain with the Mumbai Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).

Bhau Daji Lad museum has received universal appreciation for its wonderful restoration and for the renaissance revival architectural design. It also received a UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage “Award of Excellence” for Culture Heritage Conservation. The architecture and the interiors of this museum are clearly the highlight of your visit.

Bhau Daji Lad museum Architecture

inside Bhau Daji Lad museum

Inside Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Arts and Artifacts

The museum is designed on the lines of the Victoria and Albert museum in London. In fact, post restoration work, Bhau Daji Lad museum has partnered with the V&A Museum, London to exchange expertise, exhibitions, art galleries and seminars on a variety of topics.

inside Bhau Daji Lad museumQueen Victoria and Lord Elphinstone with a towering Prince Albert statue (right behind)

The underlying theme and objective of the museum is to educate visitors about the cultural scene of 18th and 19th century Bombay Presidency. It does so by showcasing arts and artifacts depicting Bombay’s growth as a city and dioramas displaying Indian industries, craftsmanship, religious sects, occupations and way of living during that era.

object inside Bhau Daji Lad museumMumba Devi statue – The name Mumbai is derived from Mumba Devi, Mumbai’s patron goddess

objects inside Bhau Daji Lad museum

Tray with Betel Nut cases showcasing Bidar Work (Indian craftsmanship art)

objects inside Bhau Daji Lad museum

objects inside Bhau Daji Lad museumSilverware

The museum frequently runs exhibitions to promote local artists as well as artists from around the world. The picture you see below is of “The Florentine Renaissance” which was an ongoing art gallery exhibition during my visit. The one week event was in collaboration with the Guild of the Dome Association, the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, and the Museum of the Opera del Duomo.

inside Bhau Daji Lad museum

Facilities at the Museum

Bhau Daji Lad museum has a cafeteria and a museum shop selling objects that promote Indian craftsmanship. They have a not-so-user-friendly audio guide facility available at an additional cost. The entrance ticket charges are very cheap and this explains the crowd at the museum which is a mix of elite and middle class masses. Here are some quick details:

Entrance Charges

Indian visitor: Rs. 10
International visitor: Rs. 100
Audio Guide: Rs. 30
Photography (without flash): Free of charge
Parking: Rs. 20

Visitor Tip:

Because the ticket charge to the museum is extremely cheap, there is no filtration on the crowd. The Bhau Daji Lad museum has also been a popular tourist attraction due to its early establishment and since it is located right besides the Byculla zoo; hence, the large number of visitors. For serious museum lovers, this means you must carefully plan your visit to avoid being in the company of large crowds and noisy children.
Suggestion: Visit during weekdays to avoid the holiday crowd. If you must visit the museum over a weekend, do it early mornings when the crowd is lesser.

inside Bhau Daji Lad museumA tourist stares at the towering Prince Albert statue

On a Final Note:

Museum and History lovers will not be disappointed with the visit. Even architecture lovers will be in for a treat. As for families with small children, Bhau Daji Lad museum is an added visit. Their main attraction will always be the neighboring Byculla Zoo.

Bhau Daji Lad museum Architecture

Grand Architecture at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Bhau Daji Lad Museum Address:

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum
91A, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road,
Veermata Jijabai Bhonsale Udyan,
Rani Baug, Byculla East
Mumbai – 400027

Timings: 10:00 am to 6:00pm (tickets sold upto 5:30 pm)
Closed on Wednesdays

Here are some more pictures from the museum:

objects  inside Bhau Daji Lad museum

Left – Jaipur pottery work; Right – Allahabad pottery work

objects  inside Bhau Daji Lad museum

Parvati and Ganesh (Hindu gods) made from Sandalwood

objects  inside Bhau Daji Lad museum

objects  inside Bhau Daji Lad museum

Indian Enamel work

objects  inside Bhau Daji Lad museumGanjifa – Playing cards during the Mughal rule

objects  inside Bhau Daji Lad museumKoftagiri craftsmen

objects  inside Bhau Daji Lad museum

Typical Fisher-woman

objects  inside Bhau Daji Lad museum?Depicting occupations like selling kulfi (local frozen dessert)

objects  inside Bhau Daji Lad museum

Dattatreya (local god)

objects  inside Bhau Daji Lad museumRadha Krishna (Hindu Gods) made from Ivory

(Note: Ticket prices were correct at the time of publishing this blog. For updated information about prices, please check their website or contact their office)

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Edwina D'souza

Read write watch, 2 left hands and feet, recluse, gazer and occasionally suffer from wanderlust syndrome!!

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