2022 – 2023
On the 10th of January, 2022, CMSVS completes 100 years of its glorious journey—a landmark, not only in the history of the Museum but also for the cultural movement of the country. The Museum was an outcome of a strong desire expressed by the public of the then Bombay at the beginning of the 20th century. Realising the cultural requirements of this moment, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Sir Ibrahim Rahimtulla and Sir Vithaldas Thackersay formulated and suggested the establishment of a public museum to the then British Government (Bombay Presidency). The objective of the proposed institution was to go beyond the functions of a mere show museum, working to actively educate its visitors.
The Museum building was designed and built by the Scottish architect George Wittet in the Indo-Saracenic style. With the commencement of the First World War (1914), the space was used as a war hospital, continuing to be so during the influenza pandemic ) in 1918-1920. During this period, the museum was renamed as the Lady Hardinge War Hospital.
It was on the 10th of January, 1922 that the Museum finally opened its doors to the public with a speech by the then Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. J.T. Brander, who stated the purpose of the Museum – “It should be largely an institution or foundation for promoting research in all branches of science and knowledge and not only a museum of curiosities for the sightseer”.
At the conclusion of the Chairman’s speech on the opening ceremony, Her Excellency the Honourable Lady Lloyd (wife of His Excellency Sir G.A. Lloyd, the Governor of Bombay), rose to reply, “ If those functions are adequately performed by a museum, the stranger who visits it will have the history of its community unrolled before his eyes, he will be presented with a fascinating picture of the natural surroundings in which the community lives, of the varieties of its climate, and of its achievements in every sphere of art and science. Once such respect is achieved- the demand for a great museum must arise and those who do not support it are depriving the credit of the community. Fortunately, here, in Bombay there have not been lacking generous supporters of this Museum”.
Many things have changed thereafter, the city is now known as Mumbai, and the Museum which was named to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales (later King George V) was renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in 2001. In these 100 years, the Museum has fulfilled its aim to create awareness and sensitivity towards our heritage through its acquisitions, collection research, and a visitor-friendly experience for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment. Particularly, in the last decade, the Museum has transformed into a world-class visitor space.
Today, it is one of the most sought-after institutions known for best museum practice, international collaborations and trend-setting projects. It welcomes over a million visitors every year, who experience a sense of joy, pride and understanding of human achievement as they stroll through our galleries and our beautiful heritage gardens. A year back when the pandemic was raging, CSMVS mobilised digital platforms, providing many joyful and enriching experiences to its audiences. We played our role in healing the society.
At the joyous occasion of our Centenary, we are putting together a wonderful array of programmes – new exhibitions, talks, workshops and conferences, educational initiatives, digital projects and cultural events for everyone. The details of the programmes shall be shared soon, and we hope that all our visitors, past, present, and future can come together and celebrate the centenary of Mumbai’s most iconic people’s museum, paving ways towards the future.
Centenary Commemoration Fund Appeal
Invest in Culture for Greater Dividends
As temporary custodians of public cultural properties, our journey of a hundred years was glorious, painful and full of surprises. Our experiences prompt us to argue that the preservation of cultural heritage continues to be one of the biggest challenges of contemporary societies, both within the sub-continent, and transnationally; at par with other great challenges such as health and environmental sustainability.
Several great thinkers and philosophers throughout history have highlighted that the sustenance of humanity is closely linked to the preservation of cultural heritages. Irina Bokova, the former Director General of UNESCO, in Culture in Cross Hairs writes , “Culture alone is not enough to build peace. But without culture, peace cannot be lasting.” The preservation of cultural heritage, documentation of human history, and dissemination of knowledge depend not only on the community of professionals, but also on an informed and interested public. While Museums, libraries, archives, universities and research institutes as individual bodies are l well-positioned to find possible solutions or effective response to these challenges, no single institution has all the resources, talent, facilities, and training programmes to act comprehensively on the same. To meet the complex demands of cultural preservation, a new tradition of innovation and collaboration that offers the prospect of much greater impact, requires broaching.