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The Government Museum and Art Gallery is located in Sector 10 in Chandigarh. The museum is a part of the cultural complex. The existence of the museum is owed to India’s partition in 1947. The museum features a rich collection of Gandhara sculptures and rajasthani and Pahari miniature paintings. It is one of the leading institutes in the country.
The Government Museum and Art Gallery holds a special importance not only for its distinctive collection but also because of various reasons. The museum premises is quite sprawling, on one end of the complex is the Government College of Art. The building in which the museum is housed is attractive in itself. The building of the museum was designed by the French architect Le Corbusier. The museum was unveiled in 1968. With time new buildings were added to the complex. The museum building is surrounded by tall trees and there are several sculptures dotted all around the premises.
The museum is divided into four wings, out of which the most impressive is the Art Gallery building. Other wings include the Chandigarh Architecture Museum, the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery of Portraits. Each of the section in the museum has been uniquely designed and the artefacts have been assembled to give visitors the maximum information.
Earlier all the artefacts of the museum were housed in the Central Museum in Lahore. After the partition of India, the collection at the Central Museum was divided. Around 60 percent of the collection was kept in Lahore and 40 percent consisting of original Indian paintings and sculptures was sent back to India. The collection was received in in India in 1949 and was first taken to Amritsar later to Shimla then Patiala and finally was housed in Chandigarh.
The Art Gallery wing in the museum has a rich collection of art objects. There are around 627 Gandhara sculptures, about 200 medieval sculptures by Indian artists and about 4000 Indian miniature paintings mainly of Pahari origin. There is also an extensive collection of gold, silver and copper coins. Visitors can also see rare terracotta figurines, pottery, jewellery and art from the ancient times. The collection in the Art Gallery is the initiative and hard work of Dr MS Randhawa who was well-versed with the antique and artistic aspects. There are over 10,000 exhibits of art and sculpture in this section.
The National Gallery of Portraits houses some of the best portraits of renowned freedom fighters. The gallery also carried and displays the history of India’s struggle for freedom.For those who want to learn about the history and evolution of Chandigarh, the Chandigarh Architecture Museum gives visitors a view of the initial documents on which the city was planned. Here visitors can see the sketches and photographs that were prepared and taken by Le Corbusier. There is detailed information about the evolution of the city can be found in a handbook that can be bought at the sales counter of the museum.
The Natural History Museum has different sections namely the Dinosaur Exhibit, Evolution of Man exhibit, Cyclorama Evolution of Life, and the Manuscript Section and Nature in Art. Each of these five sections has its own significance.
The Dinosaur Section features different models and panels of the types of dinosaurs that have been discovered in India. Major attractions of this section include dinosaur eggs, nests, fossils, touch and feel exhibits, etc.In the section Evolution of Man, visitors can see the different stages of evolution and also various exhibits that support the story. The Cyclorama Evolution of Life exhibit is located on the ground floor of the museum. There are various exhibits in this section each depicting one era of the life on earth and its evolution. The section is quite informative and interesting.
The Nature in Art is a unique exhibit where visitors can see various art pieces. The exhibit focuses on the concept that nature is a consistent part of art. The Nature in Art section has various depictions with over 62 embroidered pieces of art, 12 litho paintings and several other pieces of art work by renowned artists.The Manuscript Section is where visitors can see various documents, texts and scripts from the ancient times, which were discovered and now are available for public viewing.