AROUND TOWN: Lahore Museum

October 31, 2008


Anyone who has got a pinch of aesthetic sense or a fraction of love for history would love to visit Lahore Museum and its wonderful art galleries. The mere mention of the word 'museum' is enough to enthral many and when a museum houses art galleries, artilleries, photo galleries, pottery, textile, ivory work, coin collection and countless other manifestations of people of yester years, it becomes an exhilarating experience. Though what lies inside is very exciting, the building of Lahore Museum in itself is a masterpiece built in style of Mughal architecture.
Surrounded with lofty trees, situated opposite the 100-year-old building of Punjab University's Allama Iqbal Campus, Lahore Museum invites locals and foreigners to view its precious heritage. Lahore Museum or Central Museum is one of the major museums of South Asia. It was established in 1894 and has collections from Sikh, Mughal and British period as well as Tibetan and Napalese work
As you enter the main gate of the museum (after a security check) you are overawed with the beautiful wooden doorways, jaalis and jharokas of Sikh and Mughal period. The ceiling of central gallery of museum has an enormous mural painted on it. The mural painted by renowned Pakistani artist Sadequein is inspired by Iqbal's verses, 'Sitaron se aagey jahan aur bhi hain, abhi ishq key imtehan aur bhi hain'. The gallery also contains portraits of Mughal kings and queens. A guide is present at almost all galleries of the museum to guide people about the historical importance of the displayed antiques.
In front of the central gallery is a hall displaying weapons and artillery. Swords, armours, shields, blunt tools, guns, knives and various other weapons are displayed here with a brief history written alongside them. Next to the war section is a huge bronze sculpture of Queen Victoria sitting gracefully on her royal chair. As a kid, I used to get over-excited to sit in Victoria's lap. I no more wish so but still every time I visit the museum, I spent quite a few minutes gazing at the sculpture.
The museum has clay pots, toys and ivory items of Mohinjodaro and Harappa civilisations. These clay pots are made very skilfully and one wonders how these people made such perfect shapes without using any sort of machinery. Aesthetic sense and culture of Indus Valley civilisation are at full display in their pottery.
Ivory work showing different postures of Buddha and his life history are very inspiring. The work is extraordinarily exquisite and one cannot move on without praising the carvers. Related to it is a gallery where metallic sculptures of various gods and goddesses are placed. This is however, the only section of the museum that intimidates me. I've hardly ever visited it properly perhaps because I have absolutely no knowledge about Greek and Hindu gods.
On the first floor of the museum is a Pakistan Movement Gallery. Here photographs of Quaid-i-Azam delivering speeches, family photos of Quaid-i-Azam, Allama Iqbal and other freedom fighters are displayed. Old cuttings from newspapers printed prior to independence are also fixed into wooden frames and a wonderful coin collection is also displayed.
Lahore Museum is a place I visit more than frequently, thrice a month on average. And there is always a lot to discover there. I believe that museums and art galleries are two places that you cannot enjoy reading about only. You have to actually visit the place to experience the feel.