The National Museum of India, Delhi, considered to be one of the largest museums of the country, is home to artefacts belonging to the pre-historic to modern works of art. Located in Janpath, the museum comes under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The massive fire that broke out in the wee hours has put at risk the artefacts the museum holds.
The museum holds two lakh objects that cover a time span of over five thousand years. The artefacts kept in the museum range from arms and armour to silk paintings. These are not only of Indian origin but also of foreign origin and show a rich and diverse heritage. The National Museum also contains over sixty thousand volumes of books as well as Indian and international journals.
The National Museum not only conserves and preserves the originals but also has a modelling unit where replicas of these age old artefacts are made and sold to art, history enthusiasts.
The arms and armour gallery has on display a fine collection of Indian weapons ranging from the Pre-historic period up to the 19th century C.E. These include, edged weapons, projectiles, smashing weapons, armour for men and animals, ornamental and ritual weapons and fire-arms and war accessories.
A prestigious collection of approximately 800 sculptures have been displayed in the Archaeological Galleries on the ground floor, the rotundas on the ground, first and second floors and around the museum building.
The museum also houses a gallery of the evolution of Indian scripts and coins. 26 large-sized well-lit glass transparencies are on show narrating the wonderful story of the development of various Indian scripts from Brahmi and coins.
Pre-Columbian and Western Art collections were gifted mostly by Mrs. and Mr. Nasli Heeramaneck of U.S.A. These art objects covered mostly the pre-1492 A.D. period when Christopher Columbus unknowingly reached this part of the world in search of the new sea route to India and South-East Asia.
The collection of Central Asian Antiquities with more than twelve thousand objects from Xinjiang region of Chinese Turkestan was discovered by Sir Aurel Stein during his three expeditions in 1900-1901, 1906-1908 and 1913-1916. They were discovered mainly along the ancient trade route known as the Silk Roads.
Paintings also form an important part of the collection at the museum, as it houses nearly 17,000 paintings representing all important styles of Indian miniature. It boasts of having one of the largest collections of miniature paintings in the country.
The National Museum has also acquired nearly 14,000 manuscripts in various languages comprising of illustrated and non-illustrated calligraphic ones. The manuscript collection covers a period of about thirteen to fourteen hundred years from the 7th century to the 20th century CE.