Special Exhibitions ( Past Exhibition )

SCO Exhibition

Start Date: 30-11-2020  End Date: 28-02-2021    National Museum
Shanghai Corporation Organisation Online exhibition on shared Buddhist Heritage.

PRA-KASHI: Silk, Gold and Silver from the City of Light

Start Date: 09-09-2019  End Date: 08-10-2019  10th September 2019 to 8th October 2019   Special exhibition hall, National Museum
An exhibition of textiles from the collection of National Museum, New Delhi & Asha Workshop, Varanasi
Date of Inauguration: 9th September 2019 at 4.00 PM
Exhibition Time: Tuesday and Friday - 10am to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday - 10am to 8pm (Closed on Mondays and national holidays)

The textiles in this exhibition were hand-woven on traditional Indian drawlooms at the silk-weaving workshop, ASHA, in Varanasi. For over 25 years, ASHA'S drawlooms have produced patterned silks incorporating complex weaving techniques of the court silks of Mughal India and Safavid Iran, which had been extinct in India since the 19th century.

This exhibition charts the evolution of ASHA’s design repertoire from floral motifs to animal images, and on to the human figure, the last being exhibited for the very first time. The display represents the full range of luxury silks that were manufactured historically from the beginning of the first millennium using the Taquete-Samite, Lampas, Extended Samite, Brocaded Double-Weave, Damask, Velvet and Voided Velvet weaving techniques. The revived techniques together represent the great majority of the luxury silks woven for 2000 years at the classical silk-weaving centres of the old Silk Road.

In late 1997, the National Museum, New Delhi, had showcased Minakar: Spun Gold and Woven Enamel, the museum's first exhibition since Independence of contemporary, hand-made Indian textiles. This exhibition is a befitting tribute to the atelier’s remarkable journey of excellence over a quarter of a century. The exhibition is supplemented with historic examples of textiles, jewellery and paintings from the National Museum collection, which help connect extant examples with allied traditions of the past. Material culture of the historic past was not experienced in isolation but as a continuity of design, skill and aesthetics across various media.

The contemporary textiles on display are the creation of a dedicated group of weavers, working together under the aegis of a traditional karkhana (workshop), sustained and made possible by enlightened patrons. The weavers were closely supervised in their use of the finest and most appropriate raw materials, sensitive draftsmanship and design, choice of fabric structure and careful execution, by technical virtuoso, Rahul Jain. Their work is an ode to an unbroken historical continuum preserving and regenerating some of the most refined human skill-sets from the Indian subcontinent.

This exhibition has been jointly presented by National Museum, New Delhi and Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi. The exhibition has been curated by Pramod Kumar KG (Eka Archiving Services). The exhibition will be inaugurated on 9th September 2019 at 4.00 PM. and will remain open for the public up to 8th October 2019. Entry with Museum Ticket.

Unknown Masterpieces of Himachal Folk Art

Start Date: 04-06-2019  End Date: 31-07-2019  4th June, 2019 to 31st July, 2019   Special exhibition hall, National Museum

The 5000 years old tradition of Indian art has persisted in an unbroken chain of continuity. The entire credit for it goes to folk arts and rural artists. In the course of these five millennia, numerous royal dynasties rose to power for a few centuries and vanished, leaving glaring gaps in our knowledge of historical events and art historical development, but the folk art traditions - add to that the tribal artifacts created by the forest dwellers also continued in an uninterrupted sequence like an endless river flowing on and on till the present times. Therein lies the tremendous significance of folk arts, that were nurtured by the rural folks in each and every state of our vast subcontinent of India. The natives of each state created a mind-boggling variety of artifacts for utilitarian as well as ritualistic purpose, adding to them the distinctive touch and colours of their own soil, yet not deviating from the larger framework of the mainstream of Indian culture. This is all the more true of the state of Himachal, ensconced as it is in the lusciously verdant vales lying between the great towering ranges of the Himalayas and the north Indian plains.

Prior to being carved out as an independent state, Himachal Pradesh was known as the Punjab Hill States, the term coined by the British administrators. The arts and crafts of this state give us some idea of what must have existed in the plains of Punjab, the province that had to bear the brunt of perennial invasions and warfare from the north-western frontiers of India. Even the natives of Punjab had to seek shelter in the safe havens, peaceful hills and dales of Himachal from time to time from the 8th century CE onwards.

Like other parts of India, in Himachal Pradesh also, two stylistic streams of art and culture - classical or courtly (the Great Tradition) and folk (the Little Tradition) - were nurtured by the natives from the earliest times. Although no examples of art or craft objects are extant prior to the 3rd century BCE, the figures of Hindu deities engraved on the coins issued by the chieftains of the janapadas (republics) such as the Kunindas, the Malavas, the Audumbaras, etc. attest to the fact that the iconographic precepts governing the deities such as Shiva, six-headed Karttikeya or Kumara, Gaja-Lakshmi, Krittika, Rishi Vishvamitra, etc. were fully evolved by the 3rd century BCE ; that contemporaneously, the sculptors must have shaped identical images in the round in wood, stone and metal. Evidently, the tradition of sculpting images of the deities and rishis (seers) – to the latter are dedicated numerous wood and stone shrines erected on the sites where they had meditated dotting the entire length and breadth of this state – was in existence and continued in subsequent centuries. The stone statues of Vishnu and numerous reliefs carved in the Sarnath style and discovered from the Ambika Mata and Parashurama temples in Nirmand in Outer Saraj in Kulu district, popularly known as the Kashi of the Himalayan region, dated to the 4th-5th centuries CE testify to this phenomenon. So do the free standing wood statues of Surya (the cult image) and one of his attendants Dandi and Pingala, and four door frames featuring elegant, flowing forms of Hindu goddesses executed in Gupta and post-Gupta style, i.e. late 6th-early 7th centuries CE. These were enshrined in the wooden temple of Surya that has been reconstructed and dedicated to Docha-Mocha (a village deity) in Gajan hamlet in Kulu valley.

No examples of art objects or artifacts from Himachal Pradesh executed in folk style datable to very ancient times are extant now. Wood and fabric are perishable materials. Objects made of stone and metal too are not available - one of the reasons being the melting of damaged and discarded metal icons, mohras (plaques) and craft objects; this practice was common - as everywhere else in India - on account of the belief that such objects brought bad luck to the inmates. At times, they were thrown into the local rivers or ponds also. The stone temples have not survived due to destruction by natural calamities such as boulders rolling down the mountain slopes - a frequent phenomenon in this area.

The present exhibition aims to highlight the Folk art tradition of Himachal Pradesh and being jointly organised by the National Museum, New Delhi and Home of Folk Art (Museum of Tribal, Folk and Neglected Art), Gurugram in which more than 240 artefacts are will be on display, out of which 230 objects belongs to the Personal lifetime collection of Late K.C. Aryan, Home of Folk Art Gurugram supplemented few selected objects from the collection of National Museum. The exhibition is Curated by Mr. B.N. Aryan, Director, Home of Folk Art, Gurugram and assisted by Ms Abira Bhattacharya from National Museum side under the direction of Dr B.R Mani, Director General National Museum. The exhibition will be inaugurated on 7th June 2019 at 5.00 PM and will remain open for public up to 31st July, 2019.

Unknown Masterpieces of Himachal Folk Art
Date of Inauguration: 4th June 2019, 05:00 P.M.
(The exhibition will be opened for public after inauguration at 5.00 pm on 04-06-2019 onward)
Timing: 10.00 AM to 6 .00 PM (Tuesday to Friday)
10.00 am to 8.00 PM (Saturday & Sunday)
(Closed on Mondays and National holidays)

Jewels of India: The Nizam's Jewellery Collection

Start Date: 18-02-2019  End Date: 31-05-2019    Ground Floor, National Museum

The Nizams' Jewellery is one of largest and rich collection of Jewels that was purchased in 1995 by the Government of India at a cost of Rs. 218 Crore. The collection had remained in the custody of "H.E.H. Nizam Jewellery Trust" and "H.E.H. Nizam Supplemental Jewellery Trust" formed by the last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan in 1951-1952 to safe-guard the ancestral wealth of the family. The trustees kept this treasure of great historical value in the vaults of Hong Kong Bank. When the Government of India acquired this collection in 1995, after a prolonged legal battle, it was shifted to the vaults of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Mumbai, where it remained till 29th June 2001. It was brought and kept in the vaults of the RBI, New Delhi, for safety and has now been shifted to the National Museum for a befitting display, the preparations of which are complete from all points of view including round-the-clock security.

Superb and rare, as the collection comprising 173 precious jewels and jewellery items of exquisite workmanship is, it covers a period ranging from 18th century to the early 20th century. The collection in-dudes, sarpeches, necklaces, belts and buckles, pairs of bracelets and bangles, earrings, armlets, toe rings, finger rings, pocket watch and watch chains, but-tons and cufflinks, etc. While the diamonds from the celebrated mines of Golconda and Colombian emeralds predominate, the Burmese rubies and spinets and pearls from Basra and the Gulf of Mannar, off the east coast of India, will also form part of the Exhibition. All the jewels are flamboyant, yet amidst the dazzle of precious gems, individual pieces stand out by virtue of their antiquity and the merit of their craftsmanship. Most outstanding among this collection is the Imperial diamond now known as Jacob diamond, weighing 184.75 carats, which is a fabulous weight of any single gemstone. It is an invaluable sparkling diamond by all means, be its brilliant cutting, clarity and colour. It is almost double the size of Kohinoor Diamond (in the present shape). Another item is a collection of 22 unset emerald pieces. Also an exceptionally large variety of cut emeralds, emerald drops, emerald beads, Taveez and many other shapes of Jewellery from Colombia and Russia and two ornamented belts, one studded with a cut and the other with a carved emerald have their own charm. The quantity of emeralds may run into a couple of thousand carats.

The beautiful seven stringed pearl necklace (satlarah) is a unique creation and its weight and size are simply mind-boggling. There are approximately 40,000-50,000 chows (one chow = Carat x Carat x 0.65 /number of pearls) pearls in this collection. Besides, many necklaces with button pearls and diamond beads are exceptional for their extraordinary shape and cutting. Most of the Jadau (stone-studded) items showing large, rose cut and flat cut diamonds total a few thousand carats in weight. Of the many rings with large diamonds of different colours, one set with a Alexandrite stone, perhaps from the famous Russian mines, is of unusually large size bearing testimony to the nature's excellent gift - it changes its colours sparklingly when viewed under artificial light. The collection of pocket watch and watch chains studded with diamonds, emeralds and precious stones are noteworthy for their wide variety and intricate workmanship. It may be pointed out that some excellent enameled works from Jaipur, Delhi, Awadh and Deccan form part of this collection, which is comparable to the designs and details in the miniature paintings of these areas.

This exhibition is being organized for the third time to exhibit the Nizam’s Jewellery Collection. Prior to this, the Nizam’s jewellery was displayed twice at National Museum. The first exhibition was held in 2001 from 29th August – 15th September, 2001 in which 173 objects were put on display. The second exhibition was held from 26 Sept-30th December 2007.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Dr Mahesh Sharma, Hon’ble Minister of State, (Independent Charge) of Culture, Government of India on 18th February 2019 at 4.30 PM at National Museum Auditorium, Janpath, New Delhi. Shri Arun Goel, Secretary (Culture), Government of India was the Guest of Honour of the programme. Dr D.S Gangwar, Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor, Ministry of Culture was also present on the occasion. Dr B.R Mani, Director General National Museum delivered welcome address.

The exhibition is opened for public viewing from 19th February, 2019 to 5th May 2019 from 10.00 AM to 6.00 PM (except Mondays and National Holidays). Entry by Special ticket of Rs.50/- per person.

Baluchars: The Woven Narrative Silks of Bengal

Start Date: 08-02-2019  End Date: 20-03-2019  8th February 2019 to 20th March 2019   Special exhibition hall
Date of Inauguration: 8th -02-2019 05:00 P.M.
Time: 10am to 6pm (Closed on Mondays and national holidays)

Weavers Studio Resource Centre (WSRC), Kolkata in collaboration with the National Museum, New Delhi will be mounting an exhibition on the historic Baluchar textiles of Bengal in February 2019 at the Museum.This three-hundred-old weaving tradition known for its unique pictorial representation inspired by the prevailing socio-cultural and artistic conditions began in the Nawabi centre of Murshidabad. Over time, this art form disappeared only to be revived in Bishnupur and Varanasi. Despite the revived textiles differed in techniques, materials and aesthetics, it was a continuation of this unique heritage. The exhibition will showcase never seen collections including that of National Museum, Crafts Museum as well as textiles from prominent private collectors.

The exhibition will ensure a holistic understanding of this textile tradition including situating its context, understanding its designs and motifs, comparison to relevant art forms, materials and techniques used in weaving these textiles as well as contemporary take on this artistic tradition. The interactive exhibition will be aided by an audio-visual display, live demonstrations on the looms by weavers. In addition a series of events will accompany the exhibition including an International Seminar with prominent scholars, curators and textile experts discussing the Baluchar traditions, curated walk-throughs and activities. The exhibition aims to appeal to a diverse audience and educate them on the various aspects and contexts of Baluchar textile.

Peru's Fabulous Treasures

Start Date: 16-10-2018  End Date: 31-12-2018   

The exhibition "Peru's Fabulous Treasures" at Special Exhibition Gallery at National Museum from 16th October - 30th November, 2018 is organized by the National Museum, New Delhi in collaboration with the Embassy of Peru in India.

"Peru's Fabulous Treasures” takes you on a journey through Peruvian history, starting with Ancient Peru and the legendary discovery of the royal tomb of the Lord of Sipan. It then explores the most important Pre-Columbian cultures that flourished in Peru, including through forty original artefacts in terracotta, gold & silver and textiles from the National Museum's collection. It then features the Peru-inspired Tanjore works of artist Sujata Pai. The journey ends with an examination of modern artistic manifestations in Peru, whether it be in painting, tapestry, dress-making.

Peru and India are countries with ancient and deeply rooted cultural traditions; cradles of civilization. Around 2,600 BCE, the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in South Asia, as well as Caral in the Supe River valley were in their full splendor. Almost five millennia later, the people of Peru continue using techniques and motifs inspired by their ancestors, which now also carry a deep imprint left by the Asian, African and European immigration that took place after the 16th century AD.

India-Uzbekistan: A Dialogue of Cultures

Start Date: 25-09-2018  End Date: 24-10-2018   

Celebrating the friendship between India and Uzbekistan, this exhibition titled "India-Uzbekistan: A Dialogue of Cultures" has been collectively organized by the National Museum, New Delhi, the Ministry of Culture, Government of India in collaboration with the Embassy of Uzbekistan in New Delhi; Rampur Raza Library, Rampur; Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna and the National Association of Electronic Mass Media of Uzbekistan. It is the first major exhibition of the finest artifacts of the shared cultural heritage of India and Uzbekistan.

Since ancient times, India and Uzbekistan have shared many close historical and cultural contacts. One of the most significant among them is the era of the Kushan kingdom, when the territories of the two countries were bound by common state borders. In this periodculture, trade and economic contacts became especially close, and Indian religions (Buddhism and Brahmanical) began coexisting with Zoroastrianism in Central Asia.

An even larger and more crucial part of the shared cultural heritage is associated with the name of the glorious descendant of the Temurids - Babur, who is considered the founder of the Baburid dynasty, more commonly known as the Mughal dynasty. Babur and his descendants made remarkable contributions to the history of his new homeland, and theclose cultural ties between the regions are attested by the fact that Central Asian artists decorated the palaces of the kings and nobles of India.

A substantial number of artifacts created in the territory of Uzbekistan or by the immigrants from Uzbekistan in India are stored and studied in Indian museums and libraries. These artifacts are a testimony of the links between India and Uzbekistan in the form of Kushan art in the ancient era which were further strengthened in the medieval era.

The highlights of the exhibition are original artifacts from the National Museum collection which include coins from the royal mints of Kushans including coins depicting portraits of Kanishka, Huvishka and other kings on the obverse and early representations of deities on the reverse. The alluring sculptures from the Kushan period give us a peak into the artistic brilliance of the sculptor, prevalent aesthetics and contemporary religious discourse. The intricate manuscripts include miniature paintings from Baburnama, manuscripts of the Holy Quran, Timurnamah, Bukharisharif, Bayaz and Tuzk-i-Jahangiri to name a few.

The other highlights of the exhibition are some unique facsimiles of famous manuscripts and paintings like the Kattalangar Quran, Diwan by Sultan Hussein Baikara, Zafarnama by Sharafiddin Yazdi, Tarikh-i-Khandan-i-Taimuria, Majalis-al-Ushshaq, Mirat al-Ashbab-i-Salatin-i asman-jah, and portraits of Amir Tumur, Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur and Jahangir among others. The exhibition also includes the already published albums of the project "Cultural legacy of Uzbekistan in the world's collections" andvarious volumes from the series "Architectural Epigraphy of Uzbekistan".

As a part of the project the exhibition demonstrates the unique creations of artists and masters who may have belonged to the Uzbek lineage but became an indispensable part of Indian art, and remain preserved in the treasuries as a reminder of the cross-cultural ties.

Horses in Indian Painting

Start Date: 31-08-2018  End Date: 31-08-2018    Ajanta Hall, First Floor
Date of Inauguration: 31st -08-2018 05:30 P.M.

"This exhibition is an effort to highlight the connection between human being and horses. Many references available in the Ancient Indian texts reveal socio-religious significance of the horses. Therefore, the horse is considered second most important animal after the cow.

The legend states that the first horse emerged from the water during the churning of the ocean. The Ashvamedha or horse sacrifice is a notable ritual of the Yajurveda. King Rama conducted Ashvamedhayajna for gaining power and glory, the sovereignty over neighboring provinces and general prosperity of the kingdom. As per tradition Kalki, the last incarnation of lord Vishnu would come as horse rider. The horses are related with various aspects of human life. As per a custom in wedding the horse is used to pull the chariot of the groom.

The horses have been used for hunting, in warfare and travelling. The use of horses in India is traced around 2000 BCE. The clearest evidence of domestic horse in India appeared during recent excavations in Sinauli village, Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India. The chariots found at the site reveals use of horses had been done by the warrior class of people in this area from about 2000 BCE to 1800 BCE.

The horses had been used by elite or ruling class for riding during the war and for playing the game of the Polo. For giving tribute to their beloved horses some of the kings made memorial statue of their horses. The statue of Maharana Pratap riding on his horse Chetak situated in Fateh Sagar, Lake, Udaipur, Rajasthan is one of them.

Due to the increasing significance of the horses among Indian society a trend of importing high quality horses from Central Asia had started. A text Ashvashastra written by Vararuchi (a scholar in the court of king Vikramaditya 2nd century BCE to 1st century CE) has translated by scholars into several other languages. It talks about maintenance, selection, breeding, etc of the Horses. Four folios of Ashvashastra are displayed in this exhibition.

The beautiful physical construction of the horses inspired the artists to use them as a decorative motif and the motif of horses became popular to decorate various items used in daily life. The Nut-cutter is the best example of the same. The horse is considered very auspicious. Therefore, the natives of the Bakura district of the West Bengal use terracotta horses during the folk-festivals and the worship of local village gods."


Start Date: 10-08-2018  End Date: 25-09-2018    Special Exhibition Gallery, 1st Floor

National Museum in collaboration with the Royal Thai Embassy and the Thai Khadi Research Institute, Thammasat University, organized an exhibition on Mudmee silk which features around 50 pieces of old and new Mudmee silk from Thailand, and a few dresses and accessories made from Thai Mudmee silk, along with a selection of Indian Ikat silk from the collection of the National Museum, New Delhi

Thailand and India have shared a long history of textiles. Various types of textiles were imported from India to Siam for the local market and royal court use since Ayutthaya period (14th - 18th Century) including block-printed or painted cotton (chintz) from Masulipatnam, silk brocade from Banaras, and Patola (double ikat silk) from Gujarat. Siamese had commissioned Indian-made textiles with Siamese royal patterns exclusively for the royal court, usually with the flame motifs, as seen in traditional Thai paintings and architecture. At the same time, textiles with simplified or mixed patterns of Indian taste were produced for the general Siamese public. These Indian-Thai patterns and motifs can still be seen in the Mudmee Silk in Thailand today.

Taj Mahal Meets Timbaktu

Start Date: 24-05-2018  End Date: 06-06-2018    Ajanta Hall, National Museum

This is being jointly organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Mali in New Delhi in collaboration with National Museum, Ministry |of Culture, New Delhi, the Ministry of External affairs, Government of India and the Ministry of Culture, the Republic of Mali It is the first major exhibition of the ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu (Republic of Mali) in India. In fact, these manuscripts have rarely been exhibited outside of Mali.

The Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa, a region geologically identified with the West African Craton. Mali is the cradle of great ancient empires and kingdoms that made significant contributions to world civilization. From 12th century onward, Mali in general and Timbuktu in particular, has served as an important trade route as well as the intellectual center for scholars and students in West Africa. The combination of rich oral traditions with a strong literary heritage during this era produced countless manuscripts and treatise covering a wide range of scholarship and human endeavor including politics, philosophy, law, poetry, mathematics, astronomy, and Islamic mysticism.

These manuscripts include copies of the classics as well as original works including correspondences between political and religious leaders, legal opinions and description of social life at that time. Some are the classics as well as original works on Sufism, language, good governance, jurisprudence, arithmetic, astronomy etc. dating back to 11th century C.E.
Back to top