Hyderabad: The Salar Jung Museum of Hyderabad, housing a priceless collection of art, antiques, glass, silver, metal, books and other artifacts, will have an added attraction in four newly renovated galleries.
The renovation of the galleries of Bidri Art, Indian Bronze, Indian Sculpture and Minor South Indian Art has been completed and will soon be open to the public.
The updated galleries add to the ongoing Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, 75 years of Indian independence, celebrated in the country with pomp and gaiety.
Dr A Nagender Reddy, director of the Salarjung Museum, told NewsMeter that the renovation of four galleries has been completed and will soon be open.
“All four galleries have had a makeover. We are also displaying other artifacts. This will be an added attraction in the museum. The museum has a treasure trove of collections from across the country and around the world,” Dr. Reddy said.
He said the Salarjung Museum had decided to invite the Governor of Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan, and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Development of the North East Region to inaugurate the renovated galleries.
“The galleries have been aesthetically arranged and will be additional attractions for visitors to the museum. It will soon be open,” he added.
Among the museum’s prized treasures were an 1876 statue of Veiled Rebecca sculpted by Italian artist Giovanni Maria Benzoni, a double statue of Mephistopheles and Margaretta, and the British-made “Bracket Clock” that draws visitors every hour at noon.
The clock has a mechanical device whereby a miniature character comes out of a room and strikes a gong every hour, then returns inside. It is adorned with gilt bronze mounts; in the 18th and 19th centuries, these curious clocks were very popular in England.
Currently, there are 39 galleries in the museum divided into three blocks. Central Block has 27 galleries, Western Block has 7 galleries, and Eastern Block has four galleries. Nearly 14,000 objects are housed in these galleries.
Indian collections are from Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh , Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir and places like Kangra, Basholi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mewar, Hyderabad, Golconda, Bijapur, Kurnool and Nirmal.
Western collections come from the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Austria. Oriental collections come from countries like China, Japan, Myanmar (Burma), Korea, Nepal, Thailand and Indonesia, and Middle Eastern countries like Egypt, Syria, ancient Persia and the Arab regions.
Indian art objects include stone carvings, bronzes, wood carvings, miniature paintings, modern paintings, ivory, jade, textiles, metalware, manuscripts, bidri, weapons and armor, utility items, etc.
The collections of the Salar Jung Museum are the mirrors of the past human environment, ranging from the 2nd century BC to the beginning of the 20th century AD.
The museum has more than 46,000 works of art, 8,000 manuscripts and 60,000 printed books. This collection has been divided into Indian art, Middle Eastern art, Persian art, Nepalese art, Japanese art, Chinese art, and Western art. Apart from that, a special gallery is dedicated to the illustrious Salar Jung family, “The Founder’s Gallery”. The exhibits are spread over more than 38 galleries.
The Indian art collection consists of miniature paintings, modern paintings, bronzes, textiles, ivory, jade, Bidri ware, arms and armour, stone carvings, stone carvings wood, metalware and manuscripts. This section also features ancient sculptures from Andhra as well as paintings from medieval times.
After the Salar Jung Museum was declared an “institution of national significance” in 1961, an acquisition committee was formed and several works by modern Indian artists were added to the original collection. The Salar Jung Museum has probably the largest collection of “Bidri ware” in the world.
The Middle East is represented through its art objects from Persia, Syria and Egypt covering a wide range of carpets, paper (manuscripts), ceramics, glass, metalware, furniture, lacquer, etc. A range of figurative and narrative Persian rugs depicting “Khusrau” stories are among the museum’s most prized possessions.
The European collection includes objects of art ranging from resplendent and excellent examples of oil paintings and aesthetically appealing glassware to stately furniture, splendid examples of ivory, enamel and clocks.
It has an extensive collection of Far Eastern art consisting of Japanese and Chinese artefacts in porcelain, bronze, enamel, lacquer, embroidery, paintings, wood and inlay.
In the children’s section, an early 20th century train that travels a short distance is a major gallery attraction. In addition, the gallery features porcelain, metal, jade, and toy armies.
In addition, the museum has a rich library of rare books and illuminated manuscripts of inestimable value. There are autographed manuscripts with seals and signatures of emperors like Akbar, Aurangzeb and Jahanara Begum (daughter of Shah Jahan). It is apparent from the library collection that Salar Jung III and his ancestors were great patrons of literature.
Founded in 1951 on the south bank of the Musi River in Hyderabad, the Salar Jung family is responsible for its collection of rare art objects from around the world.
One of the most illustrious families in the history of the Deccan, five of them having served as Prime Ministers during the former Nizam of Hyderabad-Deccan reign. Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, popularly known as Salar Jung III, was appointed Prime Minister by Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Nizam VII in 1912.
Salar Jung III left the position of dewan or Prime Minister in November 1914 and devoted his life to enriching its treasures of art and literature.
The collection in museum form was declared open on December 16, 1951 at Dewan Deodi, home of the late Salar Jung, and was opened to the public by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
Later, the Indian government with the consent of the family members officially took over the museum through an act of compromise and the museum was administered by the Ministry of Scientific Research and Cultural Affairs, Government of India .
Finally, in 1961, by an “Act of Parliament”, the Salar Jung Museum and its library were declared an “institution of national importance”.
The museum was moved to its present building, inaugurated by Dr. Zakir Hussain, President of India in 1968. Administration was transferred to an autonomous council, with the Governor of Telangana as chairman.