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The museum building in a semicircular shape with 38 galleries spread on two floors displays only a part of the original collections. The ground floor has 20 galleries and the first floor has 18 galleries. The exhibits on different subjects are displayed in separate galleries.
Gallery 1 or the Founders gallery displays personal artifacts, momentos received and portraits of the Salar Jungs and the Nizams's. Royal clothes, porcelain and silver bowls, books furniture like the ceremonial throne used by Salar Jung III etc can be seen.
Gallery 3 and 3A contains collection of Indian art and articles. This section displays Indian textiles; bronze images of Jain, Buddhist and Hindu deities dating back to later Pallava and Chola periods; Stone sculptures including a Bharhut rail slab, standing Buddha statue, Ananthasayi Vishnu, red stone sculptures of Kushanas etc; brass idols belonging to the Pallavas, Cholas and Kakatiyas dynasty and brass articles belonging to Vijanagar dynasty; Pancha Teertha Jaina statue, statues of Somaskadha, Shiva and Nataraja in Ananda Tandava posture, Narasimha, Ganesha etc.; Kalamkari paintings on cloth has various scenes of Ramayana, 'Parvati Kalyanam', Lord Krishna along with Gopis etc.
Gallery 4 and 5 contains minor arts of South India and wood carvings. The special attraction is the armed Vishnu of 1st and 2nd centuries found in Nagarjuna hill. Other exhibits here include wooden chairs, doors, statue of gods, carved screens, chariot wheels etc. There is also a brass carving of 'Rama Pattabhishekam' from Thailand.
Gallery 6 presents a fine selection of printed
and embroidered fabrics in cotton, silk and wool belonging to Indian culture.
Brocades woven with silver and gold thread, silk saris of south India,
Kashmiri shawls, muslin waistcloth, famous 'phulkari' embroidery work
from Punjab, appliqué temple hangings from Rajasthan,
Zari coats, chicken work from Lucknow etc. are displayed here.
Gallery 12 is a very shallow porch with stags, deer etc in glass cabinets.
Gallery 14 contains carved ivory works belonging to 18th and 19th century. Ivory chairs presented to Tippu Sultan by Louis XV of France, inlaid tables, early 20th century German circus figures, chess sets, mat with ivory thread, lantern from Mysore etc some of the exhibits. The Mughal Queen in the standing posture is the special attraction of this gallery.
Gallery 15 and 16 contains metal ware and European artifacts including the world famous statue of Veiled Rebecca, her beautiful face hazily visible through a flimsy marble veil. Another equally famous sculpture is a 19th century double-figure sycamore wood carving done by G.H Benzoni, an Italian sculptor. The front view of the figure shows the facade of Mephistopheles and the back view of the figure showing Margaretta is seen reflected in the mirror placed behind. There are the two of the most famous attractions of the museum.
Gallery 16A includes guns, daggers, shields and swords including that of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb, Tippu Sultan, Mohammad Shah and from the Qutb Shahi period with engravings of the Dasavatara etc.
Gallery 17 is dedicated to ornately decorated metal ware like huqqa, trays etc. Gallery 17A contains oil paintings by Ravi Verma and Abanindranath tagore.
Gallery 18 shows a representative selection of Indian miniatures like Mughal, Rajasthani, Pahari and Deccani paintings.
Gallery 20 on the first floor has a collection of European paintings. The vast collection includes 'Piazzo of San Marco' by Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768), 'Soap Bubbles' by Fransesco Hayez of Italy, 19th century work, 'Venice' by Marc Aldine of Italy etc.
Gallery 21 to 24 is the large assemblage of European
pottery, furniture, bronzes and glassware. Pottery items range from Dresden
(Germany), Sevres (France), Capodimonte (Italy) to Wedgewood and English
porcelain. Gallery 24 has glass ware exhibits from England,
Austria, Ireland, Venice, France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Turkey etc
Gallery 25, the jade room displays stunning exhibits of jade. Jade imported from abroad were carved intricately and inlaid with stones by Indian artists. The workmanship can be seen in the dainty jade wine bowl, wine cups with leaf and flower motifs, swords, small jade platters used by the Salarjungs and inscribed jade book stand of Altamash (1209-10 AD), hunting knife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, fruit knife of Mughal Empress Noorjehan (17th century), 17th century dark green jade inscribed archery ring of Mughal emperor Shah Jehan etc.
Gallery 28 is the clock room is one of the best galleries displaying more than 300 clocks in various sizes ranging from Sandiers to modern day huge pieces. There are tiny pieces set in magnifying glasses to huge and stately grandfather clocks from France, England, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. An interesting exhibit here is a musical clock from Cook and Kelvy of England with a toy figure of a watchman, who pushes open the door every hour in a great hurry, to beat the melodious gong to indicate time.
Gallery 29 holds the ancient and rare collection of manuscripts in Arabic, Urdu and Persian languages. It includes the great Arabic Al Quran in Nashq (1288 AD) done by calligrapher Yakut-al-Must’sami bearing the autographs of Mughal emperors, Jehangir, Shahjehan and Aurangzeb; Roudat-ul-Muhabbin by Amir Hussaini Saadat (1329 A.D.); Urdu poetic composition Diwan-e-Mohamed Quli Qutub Shah (1595 A.D.) done by Quli Qutub Shah himself acquired from the Golconda Royal Library etc.
Gallery 31 to 36 contains far east -Chinese and Japanese porcelain. The display includes pieces from Sung (960-70); Yuan(1279-13650 Ming and Ching periods in gallery 31.
Gallery 32 is the Kashmiri room with arts and crafts from Kashmir.
Apart from the galleries, there is a reference Library, reading room, publication and education section, chemical conservation lab, sales counter, cafeteria etc. Guides are available at fixed timings free of charge.
Timing & Entry