The word ‘museum’ immediately brings to our mind an old, archaic display of articles far beyond the interest of small children. Located on Jawahar Lal Nehru Road, near Rabindra Sadan metro station, Nehru Children’s Museum was opened to the public in 1972. The museum was conceptualised by the visionary statesman Sri Jugal Srimal. It was set up with a motive to impart education to children through informal learning. The museum houses a huge collection of dolls and toys. The exhibits are thoughtfully designed to be unique and to arouse the curiosity and imagination of the young visitors.
The premises are spread across three floors with two wings on each floor. The left wing galleries on all three floors are lined with showcases displaying dolls from 92 countries across the globe.While most of these dolls are acquired, some of them were donated. One can see dolls from Argentina, China, Japan, Bangladesh, Canada, France, Philippines, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Rumania, Puerto Rico, Rhodesia, Syria, Sweden, Singapore, Spain, Seychelles, the USA, Thailand, Kenya, Macedonia, Peru, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Mexico, Italy, Ireland, Iran, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, the Fiji Island, Czechoslovakia, Bermuda, Belgium, Vietnam and our own India. The dolls are in different shapes, sizes, looks and attires. Most of these dolls represent the appearance and feel of their respective countries, clad in their traditional costumes.
The American dolls are comparatively larger in size with very cosmopolitan looks. They have a wide range of shades of eye and hair colour and skin tones and are seen to be wearing a variety of dresses. On the other hand, you can see children carrying red and blue gauze lanterns, women playing traditional Korean musical instruments and so on amidst the Korean dolls.
The Norwegian Barbie Doll is any girl’s dream doll. The royal dolls of Japan and Thailand are bound to leave you awestruck with the emphasis on detailing. There’s a showcase dedicated to the ‘Hina Ningyo’, the dolls for the ‘Japanese girls festival’. The children simply marvel at the sight of these dolls. The dolls serve as a wonderful media for the children through which they get a fair idea about the different countries of the world, their people, their looks, their attire and also their culture.
A couple of showcases are dedicated to the dolls of India as well. Designed and crafted in the traditional dress of all the different states and union territories of the sub-continent, from Arunachal Pradesh to Daman and Diu and from Jammu and Kashmir to Lakshwadeep, these dolls are the priceless contributions by Madhabi Mistry.
The landing on each floor is lined with showcases displaying toys, mostly cars and other vehicles such as tractors, dumpers, motor graders, tankers, trucks, aeroplanes and so on. These toys are basically from the USA, Germany, Spain or from the Oriental countries. Some of these vehicles are also from Purulia and Malda, districts of our own state. These showcases are of particular interest to boys.
The left wings on the second and third floors are dedicated to the clay models depicting the story of the great epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana respectively.
The story of the Ramayana is beautifully depicted in clay models through 61 scenes, right from the birth of Lord Rama to Sita’s renunciation of the world. Each and every scene is self-explanatory, owing to the excellent direction by Sri Jugal Srimal and his assistant Sri Sukumar Sahu as well as the unparalleled craftsmanship of their brilliant team. Add to this, each window has a write-up to support the scene and to provide a summarised version of the story that has been showcased. The aura and the grandeur of the royal families of yore, as also nature at its wildest, are very well portrayed through these clay models.
Just like the Ramayana, the great epic of the Mahabharata has also been brilliantly depicted in 3D using clay models through 61 scenes. Right from the dictation of the Mahabharata by Veda Vyasa to Ganesha till Yudhishthira’s journey to heaven, as one goes around, the story is mesmerising and completely absorbing. Parents are heard narrating the stories to their little ones, while young children jump with joy at the sight of kings and queens and especially on seeing Lord Krishna.
One whole gallery is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is known as the Ganesha Gallery. This is on the third floor of the right wing, adjacent to the Ramayana gallery. This is probably done with the idea that Ganesha is the most popular deity in the whole of India. Several idols of Ganesha, big and small, in various poses and sizes can be seen in this gallery. This is particularly liked by children of all ages.
Nehru Children’s Museum is much beyond a museum. Apart from attracting children with their exquisite collection of dolls, they also believe in engaging the minds of the children creatively, thereby improving their imaginative power and making their learning more enjoyable and meaningful. For this, the Museum regularly conducts workshops and training sessions for kids by inviting distinguished artists from the spheres of arts, dance, magic, drama and personality development. The children attending these workshops beam with confidence as they are able to creatively engineer their ideas.
Child or no child, this museum beckons you to experience the innocent land of dolls.
NEHRU CHILDREN Museum
Address: 94/1, Chowringhee Road, Kolkata – 700020 (Exide Crossing)
Ticket: Adult: Rs 20, Children: Rs 10
Days open: Wednesday – Sunday
Timing: 11 am – 7 pm
Parking: Available inside