Know About 12 Top Museums in Odisha
Bhubaneswar: Museums are called epitomes of both material and cultural history of a society. Museums are considered important for researchers, students, teachers as well as travellers and common people as a repository of historical elements, materials and cultural traditions.
Let’s take a look at interesting facts on major museums in Odisha, their history and collections.
Odisha State Museum (OSM), Bhubaneswar: Presently located near Kalpana Square, OSM has its roots in 1932, when two eminent historians established it at Ravenshaw College premises in Cuttack. Initially, it was only an archaeological museum with a collection of sculptures, terracotta, numismatics, copper plates and specimens of fine arts. With shifting of the capital of the state to Bhubaneswar, this museum was also shifted to Bhubaneswar in 1947-48. However, Dr Rajendra Prasad, then President of India, laid the foundation stone for the present museum building in December, l957. After completion of the building in 1960, the collections were shifted to the new building and the full-fledged museum was set-up and renamed as OSM.
The State Museum presently showcases 56,375 artifacts in 11 galleries, including archeology, armoury, manuscripts, bronze, painting, art and craft, epigraphy, numismatics, natural history, anthropology and antiquities etc.
Regional Museum of Natural History (RMNH), Bhubaneswar: Located near Acharya Vihar Square in Bhubaneswar, this is the eastern regional centre of National Museum of Natural History, established by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. Though the foundation stone for this museum was laid in 1994, it was opened to the public in August, 2004, for promoting non-formal environmental education among general public, especially youngsters.
The rich biodiversity of Chilika, Bhitarakanika, Similipal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the North-East have been showcased in various galleries. It also showcases research-based exhibits, including the story of big and small cats of India, interesting facts of butterflies and valuable collection and display of sixteen rhino skulls belonging to three different species of the world. There are interesting fossilized remains of tree, vertebra of dinosaur, ammonites and fish that reveal million years of evolutionary history related with their origin and extinction.
The RMNH has four extensive galleries showcasing exhibits, aquariums, osteological exhibits of mammals, birds, reptiles and rare herpetological collections. This happens to be the only museum in India where one can see the artist’s expression about extinct elephant, bird with its largest egg of the world.
Kalabhoomi – Odisha Crafts Museum, Bhubaneswar: Located at Pokhariput in Bhubaneswar, this crafts museum spanning over 12 acre was opened to the public in March, 2018. A visual treat for art and crafts lovers, this museum showcases an array of handicrafts and handloom of Odisha in eight sprawling galleries. The handicrafts galleries are on terracotta, traditional paintings, stone and wood carving, metal crafts, natural material crafts and tribal crafts, including pattachitra, dhokra, bell metal craft etc. The handlooms galleries display unique and antique raw materials and rare old equipment as well as a variety of handlooms, like Khandua, Tussar, Sambalpuri, Bomkai, Berhampuri silk, Kotpad silk and Maniabandha silk, from across the state.
The galleries are housed in old Odia style houses with sculpted terracotta tiles of western Odisha and traditional courtyard. Many of the outer walls are painted with traditional thematic paintings of Odisha such as ushakothi painting, patta chitra painting etc.
ASI Temple Museum at Konark, Puri: This museum is a collection of all the structures, fallen sculptures and architectural materials of the famed Konark Sun Temple. These broken elements of the erstwhile temple complex were shifted to the present building of the museum in 1968. This museum consists of four galleries and a corridor with open verandah showcasing blow-ups of various monuments of Odisha. The galleries showcase ancient as well as reconstructed sculptures and artifacts including those of Suryanarayan, Varaha, Tribikram, Narasimha, celestial nymphs, roaring lions etc.
The UNESCO has enlisted the monument along with other edifices as a world heritage site in recognition of its outstanding contribution to humanity in the field of art and architecture not only in the Indian context but also in the international sphere.
Museum of Tribal Arts and Artifacts, Bhubaneswar: Located near CRPF Square alongside National Highway in Bhubaneswar, this museum also known as Museum of Tribal Arts and Artifacts was conceived in 1987 and materialized in March, 2001. The museum has approximately 1900 displayed tribal artifacts in five halls exhibiting attires and ornaments, handicrafts like dhokra, dances and musical instruments, hunting implements, fishing nets, weapons, personal belongings, arts and photographs of 13 particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs).
Besides, various agricultural implements, textiles, musical instruments and household objects of several primitive tribes including Kondhs, Saoras, Bathudi, Bhuinya, Santal, Bonda, Juang etc. are displayed in this museum. Replicas of traditions houses of different tribes along with life-size sculptures of tribal men and women can also be seen at this museum.
Tribal Museum, Koraput: Located on a hillock at Pujariput in Koraput town, this museum showcases the rich traditions, lifestyle and livelihood of tribal population in Dandakaranya region. It showcases diverse collection of costumes, jewellery, hunting equipment, weapons, musical instruments, utensils and kitchen implements, agricultural implements and tools, terracotta exhibits and more of various tribes.
Through paintings, art and photographs, it showcases the everyday life of tribal people and their routine acts of livelihood from hunting, agriculture, fishing and forest produce collection etc. It also showcases various food grains, agri produce, stones, ores and minerals available in the hilly lands. This museum was set up in January, 1992, in the 150-year-old colonial bungalow and is presently being looked after by Council of Analytical Tribal Studies.
Archeological Museum, Ratnagiri: Located at Ratnagiri in Jajpur district, this is one of the important site museums set up by Archeological Survey of India (ASI). Excavation conducted at the site between 1958 and 1961 brought to light a large number of sculptures, inscribed slabs, terracotta, seals and sealings, votive stupas and an elaborate Buddhist monastic establishment including viharas, stupas, shrines etc.
This museum was opened to the public on August 15, 1998, and displays 3400 listed antiquities, including 220 displayed in the galleries. The museum comprises four galleries and mostly displays antiquities related to Tantric Buddhism. Among the displayed antiquities are several ancient sculptures of Buddha in various poses, along with Vajrayan deities, Durga, Vaishnavi, dancers etc.
ASI Lalitgiri Site Museum: Located at the Buddhist site of Lalitgiri in Jajpur district, this museum houses ancient seals and inscriptions and the Buddhist relics found during excavation of the site by ASI. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated it in December, 2018.
The museum displays the relic caskets of Gautama Buddha and other archaeological finds excavated from the locality. The Buddhist treasures unearthed from here also include a large number of gold and silver articles, stone containers, earthen pot and traces of Kushan dynasty and Brahmi script.
The central gallery is designed after a Buddha Mandala with a colossal Buddha image at the centre and six Bodhisattva images surrounding it. This museum is important for students of archaeology and history as it helps to reconstruct the life history of Gautama Buddha.
Odisha State Maritime Museum, Cuttack: This museum showcases Odisha’s glorious legacy of maritime trade and related activities. Inaugurated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Utkal Divas in 2013, this museum has been set up at Jobra Workshop in Cuttack. The British administration set up the workshop through the efforts of a Scottish engineer G H Faulkner just after 1866 famine ‘Naa’nka Durviksha’. It mainly catered to the needs of anicuts, dams and canals and served as the most important inland water transport system.
The museum showcases ancient maritime history, trade practices, sculptural representation of ships and boats, ship building, sea routes and navigation, ports of different periods, monuments on Odisha coast, evidence of Odisha’s ancient links with countries in South-east Asia and festivals like Balijatra. This museum also has an aquarium with different species of marine fishes.
Orissa High Court Museum, Cuttack: Located at Kila Fort, the erstwhile residence of Orissa High Court Chief Justice in Cuttack, this museum was inaugurated by then CJI Justice Dipak Mishra in November, 2017. The building, constructed in 1904, was being used as the residential bungalow of Chief Justice of Orissa High Court.
The museum showcases antique articles, artifacts, old typewriters, seals, badges, important documents, landmark judgments including those related to some freedom fighters and rare portraits of Orissa Judiciary.
Odisha Printing Museum: Set up within the premises of Government Press in Cuttack, this museum was inaugurated by CM Naveen Patnaik in August, 2014. It showcases around 50 old and ancient printing and allied machineries used in different points of time in Odisha. These have been put on display in 9 galleries depicting the chronological development of printing technology. It aims to preserve the heritage of printing for the next generation with an intention to create awareness on evolution and development of printing technology among the public.
Some of the collections in this museum date back to pre-Independence era. Those include printing machines used by the then King of Bolangir Dalaganjan Dev in 1913 and King of Keonjhar Dhananjaya Narayan Bhanja in 1934.
Insects Museum, Bhubaneswar: This museum was established in 1954, with the financial assistance of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi. This museum with 4367 objects or insects was set up with the aim of acquainting under-graduate, post-graduate and PHD scholars about the identification of various species of insects attacking crop plants. This is located within the campus of Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology.
Apart from these 12 museums, there are numerous other museums dedicated to eminent personalities and freedom fighters across Odisha. These include Netaji Birthplace Museum Madhusudan Museum, Anand Bhavan (Biju Patnaik) Museum and Swaraj Ashram and Museum (all in Cuttack) and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Museum in Puri.
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