When I visit a city for the first time, I always make sure to visit at least one museum. It was the last day of a short 4 day trip to Baroda and I took a solo trip to the Sayaji garden that houses both a zoo and the Baroda Museum and Picture gallery.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect on the inside but the building housing the museum with its brick facade was an inviting sight. Its size on the outside seemed normal but actually browsing through entire collection can take quite a while. It is housed on both the ground and first floors with an unexpected surprise in the basement.
For the minuscule sum of Rs 10, I wasn’t really expecting much but at the end of my 2-hour visit I was genuinely impressed by what the museum had to offer. The collection of artefacts, paintings, geological and biological specimens was vast and spanned several different cultures and time periods.
The only unfortunate aspect of it was the poor lighting that was maintained throughout the museum. It prevented me from seeing its most exquisite artefacts and paintings in detail. I found myself squinting often when I stood in front of so many of its displays. Whether this was intentional to prevent damage to the elements or a budgetary issue remains unknown to me. It was a shame nonetheless because they had some truly outstanding items on display.
This includes not just genuine items that have been acquired over the years, but reproductions based on original items as well. In the reproductions, a special mention must go the European section which had a reproduction of statues by the great Italian masters.
The most incredible sight for me though was in the Egyptian section which houses a real mummy. It was extremely well preserved and fascinating to study up close. When I looked up on it later, I learnt that Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the ruler of the city of Gujarat, bought this mummy from a museum in New York in 1895.
There was one more surprise waiting for me just before the exit. A small set of stairs leads you to a dimly lit basement area that houses a 72 feet long skeleton of a blue whale. A slow walk around it gave me genuine chills. The bones have been mounted next to those of a giraffe as well just to give you a better sense of scale. It was a perfect way to end my museum visit and it changed my perception of how good a museum in India can be.
If you are a fan of museums this one is a must-visit. Excusing the poor upkeep, its collection is one of the best I have seen even compared to museums outside of the country
Photography is not permitted inside the museum