Hyderabad’s Salarjung Museum, the third largest museum in India is one of the largest one-man-collections in the world. The Prime Minister of India, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru had declared open the entire collection of SalarJung to the public on December 16, 1951.The collection was shifted to its present building in 1968. This museum houses magnificent exhibits of European and Indian paintings and statuary.
Mir Yusuf Ali Khan, popularly known as Salar Jung III (1889-1949) served as Prime Minister to Nizam 1912, at the age of 23, but resigned two and a half years later. Thereafter he dedicated his whole life collecting antiques and art, which were the only passions of his lonely life. He spent considerable portion of his wealth for collecting them. It is believed that he spent a substantial amount of his income over thirty five years to make this priceless collection, his life’s passion. Though Salar Jung III is credited with these fantastic collections, it all started with his father and grandfather. This museum is well known throughout India for its prized collections. In the year 1961 it was declared to be an “Institution of National Importance” by an Act of Parliament, known as the Salar Jung Museum Act, 1961. It was originally housed in Diwan Devdi.
The Salarjung Museum Collection :
Salarjung Museum is one of the much lauded tourist attractions of Hyderabad City and it is full of many interesting objects. It is a royal treat to the connoisseurs with a collection of over 43000 art objects, 9000 manuscripts and 47000 printed books.
The collections include Indian Art, Middle Eastern Art, Far Eastern Art, European Art, Children Art along with a Founders gallery and a rare manuscript section. Indian Art includes stone sculptures, bronze images, jade carvings, painted textiles, wood carvings, miniature paintings, modern art, ivory carvings, textiles, metal-ware, manuscript, arms & armour etc. Middle Eastern Art contains the collection of carpets, paper (manuscripts), glass, metal-ware, furniture, lacquer etc. from Persia, Arabia, Syria, and Egypt. Collection of Far Eastern Art exhibit porcelain, bronze, enamel, lacquerware, embroidery, painting, wood & inlay work from China, Japan, Tibet, Nepal and Thailand etc. Oil and watercolor paintings form an important part of the European Collection.
The museum exhibits objects of art like Chinese Porcelain, Aurangazeb’s Sword, and Daggers belonging to Queen Noor Jehan, Emperor Jahangir and Shah Jahan, Sculpture, Indian paintings & Persian carpets. Some of the highlights are the Veiled Rebecca, the translucent white marble statue by Bezoni, and the Arms section.
There are 38 galleries in the Museum spread on two floors. The ground floor has 20 galleries, and the first floor has 18 galleries. Even then, the total exhibited art objects constitute a little over 25% of the entire collection.
The present building has many co-ordinating sections such as the Education Wing, Chemical Conservation Laboratory, Photo section, display section, Reception and a Sales counter. It has a caretaker section and is equipped with a separate security Wing to safeguard the art collection round the clock.
The Clock Room :
Don’t miss out on the 19th Century British Musical Clock. It is one of the best galleries with a collection of more than 300 clocks. The major attraction of this museum is a musical clock, which was sold by Cook and Kelvy of England. It is a mechanical wonder, a toy figure of a watchman who pushes open the door, emerges hour after hour in a great hurry to beat the melodious gong that indicates time. Other highlights in the museum include the “veiled Rebecca”, “Mestophiles” and “the Lady with the lamp”.