Background

 

Wazir's Baradari

Lahore Museum’s majestic red-brick building stands on Shahrahe-Quaid-e-Azam, previously known as the Mall. Blended with the old tradition of Mughal Architecture, Lahore Museum stands out among the structures built in Lahore during the British period (1849-1947). This building is home to the country's largest and oldest collection of historical, cultural and artistic objects. Its collections of Gandhara sculpture, miniature paintings rare manuscripts and old coins are known throughout the world. Similarly, its treasure of modern paintings, arts and crafts and ethnology are a national heritage beyond comparison. These collections attract research scholars, students and tourists from all over the world and constitute a unique cross-section of the cultural history of the Subcontinent The history of areas outside the Subcontinent is also brought to life here-the Museum houses artefacts from many countries and regions such as Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

 

Lahore City Heritage Museum

Initially, the Museum was set up in Wazir Khan's Baradari (pavilion) in 1855 in the centre of a date garden. After some time it was realised that the space of the Baradari had become inadequate for the ever-increasing exhibits in the Museum. When the Punjab Exhibition of Industrial Arts and Crafts was held in 1864, the collection of the Museum was transferred to the new Exhibition Hall, later called the Tollinton Market and now the Lahore City Heritage Museum.
 
This hall was a temporary building erected along Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, in the vicinity of Anarkali Bazar. At the end of the Exhibition in April, 1864, this building was augmented for retaining it as a museum containing the various objects that had been displayed during the exhibition.

 

John Lockwood Kipling

The Museum continued to be known as 'Lahore Central Museum' but its status was raised to that of a provincial museum. From 1861 onwards, it started receiving objects from various archaeological excavations, mainly Harappa from the Indus Valley Civilisation and Gandhara civilisation. Thus with time, the collection of the museum started incorporating objects from parts of the sub-continent other than Punjab as well. John Lockwood Kipling, the father of the famous Rudyard Kipling, came in 1875 from Calcutta to take over charge of the Mayo School of Art, now known as the National College of Arts. He was also the Curator of the Lahore Central Museum. He eagerly participated in the expansion and improvement of the Museum till his retirement on 5th May, 1893. .At the time of the jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria's reign in 1887, it was decided to erect a new and permanent building for the Museum. A public fund was set up for the purpose. The design of the whole complex of the museum building, and technical institute was prepared by Sardar Sahib Bhai Ram Singh and executed under the supervision of Rai Bahadur Ganga Ram, the then Executive Engineer of Lahore. The foundation stone of the present building was laid by Prince Albert Victor, the grandson of Queen Victoria on 3rd February, 1890. The building, covering an area of 27,850 square feet, was opened to the public in 1894. Before the opening, the entire collection was transferred from the old Lahore Central Museum to the new one and the old building was handed over to the Lahore Municipality to serve as a public market called Tollinton Market. By the end of the 19th century, the Lahore Museum had notable additions in the sections of Gandhara sculpture, stone inscriptions, Fine arts and numismatics. As with many other assets, several valuable collections of the Museum were divided between Pakistan and India at the time of Partition in 1947. After this steps were taken to give a new shape to the Museum, a process which continues to the present day.

 

Zamzama / Kim's Gun

In 1965, renovation and reorganisation of the Museum was started by an Advisory Committee headed by Mr. B.A. Kureshi, who was then serving in Planning Department, Government of West Pakistan. The Museum was closed for a certain period. The work included reorganising of existing antiquities and creation of new sections. The renovated Museum was inaugurated by President Muhammad Ayub Khan on 27th November 1967. In 1969, the Museum was declared an autonomous body and B.A. Kureshi was appointed the first Chairman of the Museum's Board of Governors. In the thirty years of his uninterrupted supervision, there was wide ranging acquisition of various objects such as manuscripts, wood-work and coins.

During 1973-74, the renowned artist, Sadequain completed a mural on the ceiling of the entrance gallery of the museum titled “The Evolution of Mankind”. With time a separate section of the museum was turned into the museum library, which is a non-lending facility for research and reference containing over 30,000 items including 2,000 rare books, journals and newspaper collections. Similarly, a conservation facility was added. The administration of the museum was reorganised and now the Board of Governors is chaired by the Chief Secretary, Punjab and has 7 official and 8 non-official members.