From an Egyptian mummy to Jehangir’s goblet, rare exhibits are just a click away
Museum enthusiasts can now admire the rare collections of jewels, antiques, fossils, and biological specimens in India’s oldest and biggest museum without stirring out of their homes. The National Museum in Kolkata, established in 1814, has made some of its prized possessions accessible online.
The initiative, titled ‘Online Exhibition: Rare & Precious Antiques from Indian Museum Kolkata Collection’, has over 40 artefacts, with photographs and captions explaining their significance. These include, among others, an emerald bow ring of Shah Jahan, a golden goblet studded with precious stones that belonged to Jehangir, a terracotta vase from Baluchistan dating back to 4,000-3,000 BCE, and a third century crystal casket that is said to have contained the relics of the Buddha.
“The artefacts are priceless. We need to display them with a lot of caution, under strong security surveillance. Until we are able to upgrade our security, the digital interface provides us an opportunity to make more people aware of the collection,” said Rajesh Purohit, director of the Indian Museum. “After the renovation of the website in May 2018 and the launch of the online exhibition, the number of footfalls in the Museum has increased,” he said. Like other museums in the country, the Indian Museum, located in Chowringhee in the heart of Kolkata, is able to display only about 10% of its exhibits physically. “The Museum has about 1.08 lakh objects. Even with 32 galleries, we cannot display more than 10,000 objects,” Mr. Purohit said. “But from these galleries, 15 broad sections can be viewed on the web.”
Mr. Purohit said that the museum was in touch with experts at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, to enable a 3D experience for visitors online. The Indian Museum is the eighth oldest museum in the world and the oldest in South Asia. It has exhibits ranging from geology and natural heritage to archaeology and art.