Victoria Memorial Hall offers visitors free guided tours (45 minutes each) through the museum galleries, from 11 am to 4 pm.
The Victoria Memorial Hall was erected in Calcutta, then capital of British India, to commemorate Queen Victoria. The project was conceived by Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905, who intended it to be a period museum in memory of the queen with particular emphasis on Indo-British history. Built on a 57-acre land and designed by Sir William Emerson (the then President of the Royal Institute of British Architecture), the splendor of the Memorial is evident in its architecture, which is predominantly Italian Renaissance in character, blended with nuances of Orientalism.
Widely hailed as the finest specimen of Indo-British architecture in India, and called the `Taj of the Raj,` the Victoria Memorial Hall had its foundation stone laid by the Prince of Wales in January 1906 and formally opened to the public in 1921. It was declared an institution of National importance by the Government of India Act of 1935. Today, the Victoria Memorial Hall is considered to be one of the best examples of a unique paradigm of the visual arts where four diverse fields of arts - architecture, sculpture, painting and gardening come together.
As a museum, the Victoria Memorial Hall`s collection has 28,394 artifacts displayed in nine galleries that encapsulate the history of our nation extending over three centuries beginning from 1650 A.D. The collection includes paintings in oil and watercolor, sketches and drawings, aquatints, lithographs, photographs, rare books and manuscripts, stamps and postal stationery, coins and medals, arms and armor, sculptures, costumes, personal relics and other miscellaneous archival documents.
The highlight of the museum is a unique collection of paintings by major European artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, such as Johann Zoffany, Joshua Reynolds, William Hodges, George Chinnery, Robert Holmes, Thomas Hickey, Tilly Kettle, Baltazar Solvyns, Charles D`Oyly, Emily Eden, John Fleming and Samuel Davis. It is a repository of the largest number of paintings by the famous uncle and nephew pair of artists, Thomas and William Daniell. In the collection of the Memorial is the third largest painting on a single canvas, the Russian artist Vassili Verestchagin`s The State Procession of the Prince of Wales into Jaipur in 1876.
Other important and interesting artifacts in the collection of the Memorial include historic illustrated Persian manuscripts like the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb`s hand-written Quran, the Persian translation of the tale of Nala and Damayanti by Abul Faiz Faizi, Dara Shikoh`s translation of the Upanishads, a manuscript copy of the Ain-i-Akbari, Kalighat paintings, Iranian paintings of the Qajar school, Tipu Sultan`s personal war diary, cannons and cannon balls used in the battle of Plassey, Maharaja Ranjit Singh`s personal sword, and Tatya Tope`s overcoat.
In the recent years, the collection has been further enriched by the acquisition, on enduring loan from Rabindra Bharati Society, of nearly 5,000 paintings of the Bengal School of Art, especially many prominent works of Rabindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Jamini Roy and others.
A large number of artifacts from the invaluable collections of the Memorial are on display. They are suitably placed in various galleries.
The galleries include
The Royal Gallery (currently closed for renovation)
The Queen`s Hall
The Prince Hall
National Leaders` Gallery (currently closed for renovation)
Indian Schools of Art (currently closed for renovation)
Kindly note: Each ticket grants access to one foreign tourist to both the garden and the gallery. Kindly note that the Foreign Tourists can use Paypal for booking their tickets.