About Government Museum
The Government Museum in Chennai boasts of a large repository of curious exhibits defining art, archeology, anthropology, numismatics and diverse other subjects. From a cutting-edge life-size T-rex in animatronics to ancient sculptural specimens, there is a wealth of interesting things to see here. Besides the main building, the museum has a natural history section, a children’s museum, and zoological and botanical galleries.
Those interested in culture can surf through a wide gallery of folk arts, exhibiting puppets, local musical instruments, theatrical costumes, and various other objects. There’s also the Museum Theatre, capable of accommodating up to 600 people which show enlightening historical documentaries in high-quality acoustics.
The centuries old museum was established in the year 1851.It is also one of the most ancient in the world and carries the legacy of housing the vastest collection of Roman antiquities outside Europe. Among the ancient Asian heritages preserved here, the bronze statues found in Southern India, dating back to 1000 BC, are the most well-known.
The museum has something to engage everyone, from art aficionados to children. While you spend time admiring Ravi Verma paintings in the arts section, the younger ones in the party can head to the children’s museum featuring vibrant visual exhibits elucidating Nature, Indian history, innovation in technology, and more.
The children’s museum is presently being renovated with an air-conditioned 3D theatre equipped to play five films a day. It takes around 2-3 hours to cover a full tour of the Government Museum complex and get super-knowledgeable about all things under the sun.
How to Reach Government Museum
- By Air: Fly to Chennai International Airport to visit the Government Museum and other metropolitan attractions of the Chennai city. From here, you can find cabs, buses, or shuttles to Egmore- the closest stop near the Government Museum, Chennai
- By Bus: Egmore bus stop is the closest bus terminus to the Government Museum. You can find intercity buses to Egmore from Chennai Railway Station as well as from the Airport.
Interstate bus services connecting Chennai to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Mysore, and other major cities and towns of Southern India are available to and from Chennai. Most interstate buses enter the city by Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) on the Inner Ring Road, Koyambedu area, Chennai.
- By Road: You can find intercity cabs and shuttles to Pantheon Road from any part of the city. Pantheon road is well connected via the Egmore bus station to the rest of the city. For a cheaper transport alternative, hire auto rickshaws.
Best Time to Visit Government Museum
1. 9:30 to 11:30 pm- the opening couple of hours is the perfect time to avoid the crowds at Government Museum, Chennai is by visiting in the morning hours. Being a popular tourist destination in the city, the site receives a large number of visitors in the later half of the day.
It is advised to make your travel plans to Chennai during the pre-monsoon and early winter months when the days remain crisp, and cool. Beginning from October, continuing up to February, the average daytime temperatures remain around 23 degrees in the city, making it favorable for touring the well-known museums, galleries, and other metropolitan attractions of Chennai during this transitional period.
What Not to Miss at Government Museum
Places to Visit around Government Museum
1. National Art Gallery- At a short walking distance of 5 minutes from the Government Museum of Chennai, lies the National Art Gallery situated on Egmore, Chennai. It is one of the most ancient of India’s art galleries, attractively carved in red stones and exhibits the typical signature style of Indo-Saracenic architecture.
You will get to see a myriad of rare original paintings from the folk arts of Thanjavur, Rajasthan as well as from Kangra and Deccan regions. There is a large collection of sandalwood sculptures also on display at this museum. This major attraction in Chennai for art and history buffs open at 9: 30 in the morning and is an important landmark on Pantheon Road, Chennai.
2. Kamakshi Amman Temple- Dedicated to the goddess Kamakshi, this temple is located at 2.2 km from the Government Museum on Pantheon Road. Visit this religious site to witness the vibrant spiritual culture of the Tamil people.
Cook with Sundari Krishna: Located at a distance of 8.1 km from the Government Museum, Indian cuisine expert Sundari Krishna offers an interactive and comprehensive cooking class in the 32/8 7th Cross Street in the Adyar locality of Chennai. The class has received raving reviews from both foreign and Indian guests. Take this class if you are interested in expertly serving Tamil vegetarian spreads which are as flavorsome as they are healthy.
Other Essential Information About Government Museum
- Location: The museum is located on Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai- 600008
- Timings: The museum remains open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm every day, except for Friday. The museum remains closed on Fridays.
- Other official holidays on which the museum remains closed are: Republic Day (26th Jan), Independence Day (15th August), and Gandhi Jayanti (2nd October).
Each visit can approximately take from 1 to 2 hours.
- Entry fee: The entry fee at the museum is charged 15 INR for Indians, while foreigners are charged 250 INR.
There are extra fees applicable for individuals carrying a camera or video documentation kits.
For Indians, the charges for still cameras with bigger lenses are 200 INR, while foreigners are levied 500 INR.
Children below the age of 7, are charged INR 10 for Indian families and INR 125 for foreigners.
School students, carrying documentation proof of the same, are entitled to special discounts on the entry fees. Indian bonafide school students are charged at INR 5 and foreigners at INR 75.
History of Government Museum
In the year 1778, the Madras Governor to British India extended a 43-acre land to a civil surgeon, who later set up a city planning committee of 24 members in 1793 to use the land for establishing a building for pubic amusement. The government later used the area to establish the “Central Museum”.
Since then, the Pantheon complex of which the museum building is a part of, has gone through several renovations, including the addition of the Connemara Public Library. The creative heads behind the project, to whom the design of the museum building is credited are the British architect Henry Irwin and Namberumal Chetty- his Indian counterpart. The original collection of the museum was formed from a body of 1,100 geological specimens which was handed over to the museum as a gift from the Madras Literary Society.
This collection includes nearly 20,000 gifted articles for display, ranging from rocks to books.The books were later placed in the Connemara Library. Another amazing historical fact about the site is that the ground floor of the building had housed the first zoo of Madras in 1855, having more than 300 animals, which was later shifted to the People’s Park in 1863.
Places to Eat near Government Museum
1. Ajnabi Mithai Ghar- At 0.2 km from the museum at 149 Pantheon Road, this outlet offers a large collection in special Indian sweetmeats, chats, and light vegetarian breakfast. You can find vegan options at Ajnabi Mithai, and a variety of spreads for lunch , brunch, and breakfast.
2. PalmShore Multi-cuisine BBQ- Palm Shore is a great option to have a hearty meal when you are craving something different than Indian cuisine. Located on the Pantheon Road at a 0.2 km stretch from the Government Museum, this eatery has a collection of Arabic and Tandoor grilled delicacies.
3. Roll Over- Located on the Hardevi Chambers, Pantheon Road at Egmore, Roll Over has a variety of delectable ice-creams in store. Handcrafted ice-creams, Sundaes, and pastries from this shop satisfy the sweet tooth like nothing else!
4. The Society Restaurant- Located 0.3 km from the Government Museum, The Society is a classy place to have lunch at. You can choose from Indian, Chinese, and International cuisines here and also take your pick from pure vegetarian alternatives.
Travelers' Tips for visiting Government Museum
1. Avoid visiting the museum during the weekends since the rush is generally high.
2. On Fridays, the museum remains closed, in addition to a list of other national holidays. Check before you arrange the tour.
3. Visit the official museum website to avail of more information regarding the museum.
4. Carry a notebook and a pen since photography of exhibits inside the museum is not allowed and you might want to take down some information or reference points to aid your research for satisfying personal curiosities.