On International Museum Day : May 18
Madhya Pradesh has a diverse collection of museums, each of which offers a unique perspective on the region’s history, art, culture, and natural history. Madhya Pradesh is home to a number of world-class museums that highlight the state’s vibrant history and architectural marvels.
Madhya Pradesh is often referred to as the “heart of India,” not only because it is geographically located in the country’s centre, but also because it exemplifies the historical, cultural, and natural diversity, as well as the sheer antiquity of this land. The Narmada Valley has yielded some of the world’s oldest human and animal fossils, and the state’s numerous rock art shelters are rich preserves of our forefathers’ imaginations.
Many dynasties ruled Madhya Pradesh in the past, and they built temples, forts, and palaces throughout their empires in the state.
Dozens of museums across the state are helping to document and preserve Madhya Pradesh’s history as it has been passed down through art and sculpture, pottery and fossils, jewellery, and weapons. Let’s look at some museums in Madhya Pradesh.
MP Tribal Museum
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh’s capital and also known as the ‘City of Lakes,’ has several museums that house many unheard truths from bygone eras. The Tribal Museum is one of the most popular attractions here. The colourful museum is divided into six galleries that showcase various Madhya Pradesh tribes. The museum showcases the folklore, lifestyle, rituals, and social customs of all seven indigenous tribes of MP—the Gonds, Bhils, Bharias, Sahariya, Korku, Kol, and Baiga—via a repository of traditional art. Indeed, the lives of the region’s seven tribes are celebrated through their crafts here. The moment you enter the museum’s galleries, you have the distinct impression that you are not only witnessing the galleries, but also entering directly into the lives of Madhya Pradesh’s tribes.
Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS)
Without going to the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS) in Bhopal, no exploration of a museum is complete. On a sprawling 200-acre plot of land, there is an open-air exhibition of tribal habitats from all over India. These dwellings are constructed by the tribes themselves using indigenous raw materials that depict the tribal people’s way of life in the villages. Himalayan Village, Medicinal Trail, Mythological Trails, Desert Village, and Rock-Art Heritage, which displays 36 rock shelters with stunning prehistoric paintings, are among the open-air exhibitions. The museum also displays a collection of tribal outfits, agricultural and household objects, and other crafts that depict the tribes’ regime!
Maharaja Chhatrasal Museum, Dhubela
The Maharaja Chhatrasal Museum is located in Dhubela on the Chhatarpur-Nowgaon highway in the Madhya Pradesh district of Chhatarpur, 62 kilometres from Khajuraho. The palace, also known as the Dhubela Museum, was built on the banks of Dhubela Lake by Maharaja Chhatrasal. The museum, which opened in 1955, teaches visitors about the history of Khajuraho’s famous Bundela dynasty. This museum has eight galleries, two of which display Gupta and Kalachuri period inscriptions, copper plates, Sati pillars, lingas, and inscribed images. The museum houses a diverse collection of Shakti cult sculptures. It also has a large collection of Jaina images.
Adivart Tribal and Folk Art Museum, Khajuraho
This museum, located within the Chandela Cultural Complex in Khajuraho, is ideal for history buffs, as it houses a large collection of tribal and folk art and artefacts. The museum provides visitors with an insight into the history of Madhya Pradesh’s customs and rituals. Over 500 tribal antiques, folk paintings, jewellery, masks, terracotta objects, metal craft, and bamboo items are housed here. Original paintings and prints are also available for purchase. This museum also displays the progression of centuries.
Gujari Mahal Archeological Museum, Gwalior
Gujari Mahal is a popular tourist attraction in Gwalior. King Man Singh built the palace for his beloved queen Mrignayani, who was born into the Gurjar family. It is now known as the Archaeological Survey of India’s Gwalior museum. The museum’s archaeological heritage includes stone sculptures, terracotta figures, stone inscriptions, copper plate inscriptions, coins, bronze sculptures, paintings, arms and weapons, and excavated material.
The State Museum, Bhopal
The State Museum of Bhopal, founded in 1964, is a cultural treasure housed in a magnificent Indo-Saracenic style building from the nineteenth century. It exhibits over 50,000 artefacts from Madhya Pradesh’s rich heritage, including prehistoric tools, stone sculptures, coins, paintings, textiles, weapons, and tribal art. Its one-of-a-kind collection includes 17 galleries of tribal and folk art, offering a glimpse into the artistic traditions of communities such as Gond, Bhil, Bhadia, and Baiga.
The government has implemented various initiatives to support and develop museums across the state.
One notable initiative is the establishment and renovation of museums. The government has been actively involved in setting up new museums and upgrading existing ones to enhance their infrastructure and exhibits. These efforts aim to provide visitors with a better understanding of Madhya Pradesh’s history, art, culture, and natural heritage.
The government has also focused on promoting tourism through museums. It recognizes that museums play a crucial role in attracting tourists and showcasing the state’s cultural wealth. By creating engaging displays, interactive exhibits, and organizing special events, the government aims to make museums more appealing to both local and international tourists.
Additionally, the government has taken steps to improve the management and conservation of museum collections. This involves implementing proper storage facilities, conservation techniques, and documentation systems to ensure the long-term preservation of artifacts and artworks.
Furthermore, the Madhya Pradesh government has encouraged collaboration between museums, cultural institutions, and educational organizations. This cooperation helps in knowledge sharing, research activities, and organizing educational programs, thereby enriching the museum experience for visitors.
Smart Governance DESK