India has a bounty of artefacts and monuments dating from prehistoric days to modern times.These inanimate symbols bear witness to the country's glorious past and give a glimpse of its varied heritage and culture.

The first museum,the Indian Museum was established in Kolkata formerly Calcutta in 1875. And now, when you visit any Indian state, you will find museums that house priceless findings of the ancient, medieval and modern era. Be it in the form of sculptures, coins, statues, ornaments, paintings, memorabilia, weapons, fabrics,engravings or even books and manuscripts.

Museums all over the country exhibit objects that range from finds at archaeological sites, miniature paintings, royal memorabilia to India’s finest traditional crafts. Of course, this varies from one museum to another. New Delhi’s National Museum exhibits a range from terra-cotta figures of the 5th and 6th centuries BC to exquisitely damascened swords of the Mughal period. Also in New Delhi, the Crafts Museum displays the folk art of India. Periodical exhibitions include textiles, wooden sculptures of coastal India and other thematic subjects. Jaipur's City Palace, itself an object of wonder, houses a collection of royal i2 memorabilia, as do the museums in other parts of Rajasthan: Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Alwar and Bundi. Each of these were princely states whose rulers were great patrons of art, and miniature paintings in the distinctive style of each state forms the nucleus of many a museum’s treasures.

In Gujarat, the city of Ahmedabad has a sprinkling of museums, all the private collections of an individual or a family. The Shereyas Museum of Folk Art, the Calico Museum of Textiles, the Kite Museum and the Utensils Museum, each display another facet of the rich heritage of craft traditions of Gujarat. Vadodara’s museum is housed in an old palace building and includes extremely rare bronze figurines. In the north, Jammu’s two museums display a valuable collection of miniature paintings collectively known as ’Pahari’ or hill schools. Srinagar’s SPS Museum is the only place in India where one can see stone sculptures of deities executed in the distinctive style that was a hallmark of Kashmir in the 7th to 11th centuries. Bhopal’s museum revolves around the considerable tribal skill of Madhya Pradesh, the focus of which is dhokra figures, made in the lost wax technique out of bell metal.

Pune’s Dinkar Kelkar Museum is the lifelong collection of one man whose theme was the celebration of everyday life in art. Ink pots, cooking vessels and betel nut crackers, all display the wealth of everyday art. Hyderabad’s most famous museum is the Salar Jung Museum, again a personal collection which features priceless treasures and whimsical objects side by side. Trivandrum has a museum whose building is probably the most photographed edifice in the city. Objects displayed inside are exquisitely carved bronze temple figures. Cochin has a number of museums housed in buildings that were built by the Dutch as palaces, and by local rulers. A small museum on the outskirts of the city is the Museum of Natural History, the vision of its founder. Sound and light shows bring to life all the figures exhibited that range from classical dancers to Portuguese traders. Calcutta too has a museum that was the personal collection of one family, at Mallick’s Palace. It is impossible to give a brief account of a subject that requires a full volume to itself. Every city or town in the country will have a museum featuring classical, tribal or folk art.

During the last few years, the contemporary art scene in the country has blossomed into a high profile attention getter, auctioned at never before prices by international auctioneers. The works of all India’s best artists are pre sold almost always, but can sometimes be seen at art galleries in New Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Vadodara and Trivandrum. Art exhibitions are held in these cities from time to time, and feature solo and group shows.