On 10th January, 2022 CMSVS completes its 100 years' glorious journey—a landmark, not only in the history of the Museum but for the cultural movement of the country. The Museum was an outcome of a strong desire expressed by the public of Bombay (Mumbai) long ago. It was Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Sir Ibrahim Rahimtulla and Sir Vithaldas Thackersay who understood the cultural requirement of the early 20th century Bombay and suggested to the then British Government (Bombay Presidency) to establish a public museum with an objective that the set up should be educational and not a mere show museum.
The Museum building was designed and built by the Scottish architect George Wittet in the Indo- Saracenic style. It was used as a war hospital during the First World War (1914) and once again as a major hospital during the pandemic (influenza) in 1918-1920 and was renamed after Lady Hardinge War Hospital. It was on 10th January 1922 that the Museum opened its doors to the public with a speech by the then Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr. J.T. Brander, stating the purpose of the Museum as, “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 Prince of Wales (later King George V) was renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. In these 100 years, the Museum has fulfilled its aim to create awareness and sensitivity towards our heritage through its acquisitions, collection research, a visitor-friendly experience for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment. Particularly, in the last decade, the Museum has been 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 when they stroll through our galleries and our beautiful heritage garden. A year back when the pandemic was raging, CSMVS provided many joyful and enriching experiences to its audiences online. We played our role in healing society.
We are putting together a wonderful array of programmes – new exhibitions, talks, workshops and conferences, educational initiatives, digital projects and cultural events for everyone. We will share our programmes with you very soon and hope that we can all come together and celebrate the centenary of Mumbai’s most iconic people’s museum and take it to the future.
CENTENARY COMMEMORATION FUND APPEAL
Invest in Culture for Greater Dividends
As temporary custodians of public cultural property (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai), we are pleased to intimate you that your Museum is now going to complete its 100-years-long journey on 10th January 2022. The journey was glorious, painful and full of surprises. We have said this many times, and now again, that the preservation of cultural heritage is arguably one of the biggest challenges of contemporary society in the country and the world at-large, similar to other great challenges such as health and environmental sustainability.
All great thinkers and philosophers have reminded us on many occasions that humanity sustains so long as culture is existing. Irina Bokova, the former Director General of UNESCO, writes, "Culture alone is not enough to build peace. But without culture, peace cannot be lasting." It is a proven fact that the preservation of cultural heritage, documentation of human history, and dissemination of knowledge will depend, not only on the community of professionals, but also from an informed and interested public. Museums, libraries, archives, universities and research institutes are still well-positioned today to find possible solutions or effective response to these challenges. Unfortunately, no single institution has all the resources, talent, facilities, and training programmes for a comprehensive solution to the challenge of preserving cultural evidences of the past and present; a new culture of innovation and collaboration offers the prospect of much greater impact.
Do you owe it to culture for your successes and wish to contribute towards the sustainability of cultural heritage? If your answer is 'yes', then please see the attachment which allows you to create something new together.