After our yesterday’s trip to Integral Coach Factory (ICF) Railway Museum, today myself and my son went to see Government Museum, Egmore (Chennai). It is housed in historic buildings from British time but like many other government buildings poorly maintained. Still its a big tourist destination in Chennai, thronged by people from outside Chennai but shunned by city dwellers. The last I visited after many decades was in 2010 and my detailed post is here.
The museum campus houses world-famous portraits of British Governors and treasured paintings of Raja Ravi Verma. Apart from Arts, it has large sections on Zoology, Botany, Archaeology, Geology and others. In that sense its an all-around the museum.
We spent close to 3 hours, I waited patiently till my son finished each section of interest to him. Best time to visit is to finish lunch and go there around 1 PM, that way you can spend 2-3 hours based on your speed. Museum closes around 5 PM and entrance fees is very nominal at few tens of rupees. Only the bronze sculpture building is air conditioned so carry a lot of water with you as walking around can be long & hot. The staff of the museum seem to be experts on individual subjects, which I got a sense when I asked them some queries which they reluctantly answered. But their main intent seems to be acting as security guards than to interact with students coming in and inculcate interest in them on our history. I agree the visitors are to be equally blamed by their poor behaviour and carelessness. Even then for the staff, it is their duty to serve the visitors – after all, they too are fellow citizens and we together own our tradition & culture.
Update Sep/2017: The Department of Museums, Government of Tamil Nadu has made available for free hundreds of ebooks that they have published over the years. I found books like “Handbook of the Madras Government Museum” by Dr.Satyamurti published in 1998 which talks in detail about various exhibits kept here and their history, and, “Guide to the bronze gallery” by The Commissioner of Museums published in 1998.
Also published on Medium.