Greetings from the CSMVS, Mumbai !
Wishing you a happy and fruitful 2013!
It is a matter of great pleasure and pride to share that the Museum is celebrating its 91st Anniversary on January 10, 2013. Exactly 91 years ago, on this day, the gates of the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India (now renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya) were thrown open to the public by Her Excellency, the Honourable Lady Lloyd, wife of Lord Lloyd, the Governor of Bombay.
While doing archival research for the forthcoming publication on the glorious history of the Museum, I found some interesting information about the birth of the Prince of Wales Museum (CSMVS) which I would like to share with you.
A resolution passed in 1892 by the Government of British India on the subject of better organization of museums with a view to the promotion of trade and industries, and particularly of the art industries of the British India, led to suggestions for the establishment of a Museum of Art of Bombay (now Mumbai). Initially, it was suggested that such a Museum could be established on Hornby Road in close proximity to the Sir J.J. School of Art. The matter was very seriously pursued by Mr. Griffiths, then Principal of the School of Art. A tentative estimate of Rs. 5 lakhs for construction and setting up a new Museum was submitted to the Government. Unfortunately, Government of Bombay was not at that time in a position to burden themselves with the cost of furnishing and up keep. This was mentioned by Lord Harris, Governor of Bombay, in his address while opening the Bombay Fine Art Exhibition in 1894.
In 1904, the Superintendent of Archaeological Survey of India, Mr. Cousens, demanded proper storage space for the archaeological collection from the excavated sites of Deccan and Sindh (Bombay Presidency) and also an office for himself. That prompted the Government to issue a resolution in May 1904, for an expression of public opinion on the question of having a public Museum and Library in Bombay and requested the following members to a discussion;
Mr. G. O. W. Dunn, President, Sir P.M. Mehta, Mr. Ibrahim Rahimtoola, Mr. Vithaldas Damodhar Thackersey, Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Phipson, Mr. Monio and Mr. J. Siadon.
At a meeting held on the 22nd June 1904 the committee resolved that the need for a public Museum and Library had been established, and the following principles should be adopted:
i) That the Museum should be representative of the Presidency and Sindh (now in Pakistan) only.
ii) That the building should not exhaust all present resources but should admit of being readily enlarged when needs and funds grow.
iii) That the building should be a handsome and noble structure befitting the site selected and in keeping with the best style of local architecture – a condition which by no means entails the most lavish expenditure.
His Excellency the Governor in Council had been much gratified with the reception which had been accorded to the project for a public Museum. The various expressions of sympathy which the report elicited in the public press culminated in the proposal being enthusiastically adopted at a largely attended meeting in Bombay on 14th August 1905 stating that the Museum should be the lasting memorial of the visit of their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales to this Presidency in 1905 – 1906. It was also decided in the meeting that the Museum will be named “ Prince of Wales Museum of Western India”. The meeting was attended by Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Justice Chandavarkar, Justice Badrudin Tyabji, Narotamdas Gokuldas, David Sassoon, Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy, Kikabhai Premchand and others.
A semi- circular plot of land aptly called the Crescent Site was selected for the Museum by the Government of Bombay which was then with the Bombay Improvement Trust.
On 11th November, 1905 the foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales (later King George V) and the Museum was named Prince of Wales Museum of Western India.
The winning entry by architect George Wittet, the result of an open competition in 1909 thus saw the construction of a beautiful, solid structure of locally quarried grey Kurla basalt and a buff trachyte Malad stone. Designed in the Indo- Saracenic style, the monument edifice is a combination of Hindu and Saracenic architectural forms with some elements of Western architecture, a big dome at the centre, two smaller domes on either side and complimented by a beautifully laid garden. The Museum has carefully and consciously preserved its original structure and surroundings, perhaps the only place today in this part of Mumbai, where the visitors can have a glimpse of an undisturbed heritage precinct.
The next quarter is going to be more exciting as the Museum is continuing the blockbuster exhibition titled “Mummy – The Inside Story” and education programmes around the exhibition in collaboration with the British Museum, London. The exhibition along with the 3D film show attracts a large number of visitors from the city as well as different regions of the country. The show unravels the history and mystery of ancient Egypt. For the cultural and academic programme for this quarter please refer to our Forthcoming Events page.
We thank you for your continued support.
Director General, CSMVS