PresentBangladeshNationalMuseum (1983) is the successor to the Dhaka Museum. Lord Carmichael, the Governor of Bengal inaugurated theDhaka Museum on 7th August 1913. Mr. M. Bonhamcarter and Nicholas D. Beatson Bell played a very significant role in establishing this museum. Dr. Nalini Kanta Bhattasali, a young historian of immense potentiality, was made the first curator of the museum in 1914 and he served the museum in that capacity till his death in 1947, An acclaimed scholar, dedicated organizer and a professional of untiring missionary zeal Dr. Bhattasali made this Museum a very solid one in this part of the world. Since inception, its collection has grown enormously covering a wide range of objects. On 20th September, 1983 Bangladesh Jatiya Jadughar (National Museum) ordinance came into operation and the Dhaka Museum Board of Trustees ordinance 22nd April, 1970 was repealed.BangladeshNationalMuseum was shifted to its present premises at Shahbag near Dhaka University in 1983.
A four-storiedbuildingwithatotalexhibitionareaofmorethan 20,000sq. mts.and 46 galleries.TheBangladeshNationalMuseumisoneofthelargestmuseuminSouth Asia.TheMuseumbuildingcomprisesthreeauditoriumsforholding seminarsandcultural functionsandatemporaryexhibitionhallfor arrangingspecialexhibitions.TheMuseumhasarichLibrary,an Audio-visualsection,aConservationLaboratoryanda
photographicsection.Buddhistand Brahminicalstonesculptures,architectural pieces,ArabicandPersianinscriptionsand piecesof calligrapharethemostsignificant objectsofthismuseumfromthepointofviewofartisticvalueand iconographicimportance.ThecoincabinetoftheNationalMuseumisespeciallyrichforthestudyofhistoryandnumismaticsofmedievalEastern India.
TheMuseumhasagoodcollectionofSanskritand Bengali manuscripts,writtenon hand-madepaper,palmleafandbirchbark.Amongtheterracotta objectsinthemuseumplaques,figures, stampedand inscribed slabs,votive seals, mouldedand decoratedbrick representingthedifferentphasesofthisartof Bengal.ThePersiandocumentsincludeaFormanof MughalKing Shahjahan. Paintingsinthemuseumcollectionrangeindatefrom 17thcentury.Theyincludelacquer paintedwoodenmanuscript covers,late Mughalminiature,watercolor drawingsofEidandMuharramprocessionsofDhaka.Withagalleryof Shilpachariya Zainul Abedin'spainting,thecontemporaryartgalleryisrichwith paintings,sculpturesand tapestriesoffamous artistsofBangladesh.
Besidesthese,medievalarmsandweapons,porcelain,metalwork,fivespecimenoffamousfiligreeworkofDhaka,exquisite embroidered quilts,outlandish piecesofivoryworks,superbwoodenfurniture,ararepieceofworldfamousDhakaMuslin, dioramasoffolkandtriballife,replicaof boatsofBangladesh,tribalandfolkartsand craftsare displayedinthe galleries.Collectionof natural history specimens includesfloraandfauna, fossils,rocksand mineralsofBangladeshandsomeimpressive dioramas depictingtheforestlifeand sundarbansmilieu.The galleriesofliberationwar (1971),mementosof martyred intellectuals (1971)andLanguageMovement (1952)haveaddedaproperdimensiontoBangladeshNational Museum.Atpresent,BangladeshNationalMuseumhas,initspossession,morethan 83thousand objects representing Hindu-Buddhistcivilizationofoldentimes,IslamicheritageofBengal,andlife,cultureandsocietyofcontemporaryBangladesh.DepartmentofPublic Education
School program with guide lecture service
Department of Public Education comprises following sections:
Education section deals with school program, provides guide lecture service, mobile exhibition bus and holds art and hand writing competitions including various other competitions for children and arranges seminars, lectures and film shows. Display section is responsible for the exhibition in galleries as well as for special exhibition.
Museum objects are documented by photographic section. It also takes photographs of different educational and cultural activities and looks after the programmes of foreign delegates and dignitaries. The museum library has a good collection of books on art, history, archaeology, Bangladesh liberation movement and natural science. There are also three auditoriums, which are let out for rent for holding important seminars and cultural functions. Publications and all painting works ofNationalMuseum and branch museum are done by the publication section. It is entrusted with the duties of maintaining public relations as well.Department of Conservation Laboratory
A modern and well-equipped conservation laboratory was established in 1975 to ensure scientific conservation of objects acquired in the Bangladesh National Museum and its branch museums. It also provides necessary conservation and training facilities for other museums and laboratories of the country. Conducting research to improve conservation methods and analytical work to study objects, taking measures against bio-deterioration, environmental monitoring and regular inspection of galleries and stores are the functions of the conservation laboratory. About 17,000 objects were treated in the laboratory till December 1998. The department comprises highly qualified and trained conservation scientists.
A flower vase: before conservation
A flower vase: after conservationDepartment of Ethnography & Decorative Art
Department of Ethnography & Decorative Art has an extensive collection of ethnographical materials and decorative art materials. The aim of this department is to collect, preserve, and display and study the traditional designs, motifs, traditional arts and e crafts of Bangladesh.
Partition, Wood, 19th Century A.D.
The objects collected under this department are folk arts and crafts, boats, lamps, tribal ornaments, tribal arts and crafts, musical Instruments, dolls, pottery from different regions of Bangladesh, metallic images with folk elements, hookas, pitchers, painted pots, moulds of cakes and ornaments, hangers, fishing implements, models depicting different aspects of the people's life, miscellaneous folk-life materials of Bangladesh, porcelain or Ceramics, wood carvings, metalwares, furniture, textiles, ivory objects, arms and armor, ornaments.
Model of Ahsan Manzil (an old palace of the Nawabs of Dhaka) gold and
silver filigree work of Dhaka 1905 A.D.
Sankher Haree, Decorative Earthen Ware, 20th Century A.D.
Department of Natural History
The first 10 galleries are devoted to highlight the natural heritage of Bangladesh, which introduces the country as well as, its luxuriant flora and fauna, rocks and minerals. Important displays are the magnificent "Sunderbans", versatile rocks and minerals, wonderful medicinal plants, varieties of reptiles, birds and mammals and the gracious skeleton of whale. Natural History Department primarily deals with natural heritage of the country as nature plays a very important role in man's life and culture. The aims and objectives of the department are to increase public awareness for environment and environmental protection against the risk of uncontrolled and unrestrained industrialization, the gradual decreasing of the forest area and to promote public opinion for conservation of nature and natural resources through exhibitions, seminars and symposia. Natural history specimens preserved in the museum serve as a great reference library.
Medicinal plants of Bangladesh
Spotted Deer of theSunderban Mangrove Forest
Petrified wood from Lalmai,Department of Contemporary Art and World Civilization
Contemporary art and world civilization department starts functioning since 1981. There are eight galleries under the control of this department of which three galleries consist of paintings and sculpture of contemporary painters and sculptors of the country. It also includes works of Shilpacha- raya Zainul Abedin, the pioneer of contemporary art movement in Bangladesh. Portraits of national and international personalities and heroes in the field of art, literature, culture, science, sports, philosophy, history and archaeology, liberation war ofBangladesh are displayed in two galleries. One gallery of world art includes collections of original and reproductive works of old master painters and contemporary world painters. Rest of the galleries contain objects of world civilization and traditional folk art.
The department arranges exhibitions, seminars, symposia and learned lectures, publishes catalogues, folders, and carries out research work on its collection.
Three Belles by Quamrul Hasan
Santal by Zainul Abedin Department of History & Classical Art
Department of History & Classical Art is the largest curatorial department of the Bangladesh National Museum. All the material pertaining to the political, social, economic, religious and cultural aspects of the past are preserved in the department, such as archaeological artifacts, sculpture, architecture, terracotta, epigraph, numismatic, manuscript, document etc. The department also collects the relics and mementos of historic Liberation War. Collection: More than 65 thousand objects including 52 thousand coins are preserved in this department. The study of aesthetic and technological aspects of these objects is carried out in this department.
Manasa (snake deity), bronze,
11th century A.D.
Gold Coin, Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar
Terracotta plaque, 1st century B.C.