MUSEUMS IN PAKISTAN
On independence Pakistan inherited seven museums, out of which Museums at Lahore and Peshawar were run by the Provincial Governments while site museum of at Harappa, Moenjodaro, Taxila and the Armoury Museum in Lahore Fort were looked after by Central Government through its Department of Archaeology.
Immediately after independence plans were taken in hand to establish National Museum of Pakistan. It was on 17th April 1950 that the National Museum of Pakistan was inaugurated in Freer Hall building, replacing the defunct Victoria Museum
In order to advise the National Museum of Pakistan to enrich its collection through new acquisition, an Advisory Council for the purchase of antiquities and works of Arts was also formed by the government in 1950.
The development of museums in the country has been spectacular and the last decades have seen quite a few museums being established and many others reorganized on modern lines. Recently a museum exclusively devoted to Allama Iqbal at Javed Manzil, Lahore and another House Museum in the Quaid-I-Azam House (Flag Staff House) Karachi have been established. The detail of the existing museums under the charge of the Department of Archaeology & Museums as well as some of the private museums is given below:
National Museum of Pakistan:
Established in 1949, A Journey through
History of Ancient Civilizations
From Bhambore, about 40 miles from Karachi, have been excavated the earliest remain of Islamic culture of Pakistan. A number of copper coins of Umayyad period have been found along with specimens of pottery made in Syria, during that period. Those are unglazed, white, thin-textured and molded in relief with "Kufic" inscription and floral-geometric patterns. Glazed pottery vessels, drug up from the same area, show Persian influence, which became more pronounced in the specimens recovered from upper levels.
Glass articles show high quality of craftsmanship and technique, known to have existed in Syria, in early Islamic period. Ceramic ware objects with artistic carving were also popular in Muslim world, so that they gave rise to the "cut glass" school in Iran. All the phases in the development of glass ware by Muslims are represented in the gallery.
Metal ware with floral decorations from subcontinent and Central Asia is also on display. Some of the silver inlaid brasses in Seljuk style are among the most beautiful in the world. Art of metal decoration was developed in individual and finer style under the patronage of Mongol in subcontinent.
On the second floor of Museum, there is fantastic display of Muslim calligraphy. Angular "Kufic" and cursive "Naskh" are the early forms used during the first century in Islamic architecture, in copies of Koran and in textile and pottery, written in vertical strokes.
Miniature painting of portraits of Mongol emperors, queens and princes, who patronized the art, also adorn the gallery. A number of these paintings depict hunting, court and romantic scenes. In these miniatures, Persian delicacy of detail and linear grace blend with the characteristic Indian palette of varied greens, glowing reds and oranges.
Numismatics Section of National Museum stored a large number of coins from the earliest punch marked pieces to 19th century. A few enlarged models of gold coins, among these, the one found in Banbhore, bearing the name of Abbasid Caliph, Wasiq Billah, minted in Egypt in 884 AD.
Ethnological gallery, on its western side, shows representative collection of the living culture of various tribal, semi-tribal and part of the rural population, living in different regions of Pakistan.
PNCA Art Gallery
Idara Saqafat-e-Pakistan (Pakistan National Council of the Arts) runs two art galleries. The National Gallery is located at House # 77, Street # 48, F-7/4, Islamabad (Tel: 9204951), where contemporary Pakistani art is on permanent display besides revolving exhibitions & paintings available for sale. The other is Children Art Palace, # 77 School Road, F-7/4, Islamabad (Tel: 221286), where Children's art is on display and regular art classes held for children.
Pakistan Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History is located in the National Park on Garden Avenue, Shakarparian, Islamabad. The Museum depicts the early human history, geology, and the wild life of Pakistan. The exhibits are of particular interest to students and children. It is open to public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except Friday. Entry is free.
Islamabad museum presents a long historic sequence of the land where Pakistan is situated today. Pakistan has been a seat of the world's leading civilizations from the time immemorial. There is plenty of evidence to support this argument now on display in Islamabad Museum. For example, 20 million years old fossil remains, 2 million years old man-made stone tools, 7000 years old early human settlements which lead to the world famous Indus Civilization, Gandhara Grave Culture and Gandhara art, early Islamic settlements, Sultanate and Mughal period, their art and craft.
The Museum is located at Garden Avenue, Shakarparian, Islamabad. It is open for visitors, Thursday to Tuesday, from 09:30 to 16:30 hrs without break. Wednesday is weekly off and there is a prayer break on every Friday from 12:30 to 14:00 hrs.
Lok Virsa Museum & Heritage Library
The Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage) works towards preserving the living folk and traditional culture of Pakistan. Its Folk Heritage Museum, located near Shakarparian Hills, has a large display of embroidered costumes, jewellery, woodwork, metalwork, block printing, ivory and bone work. Traditional architecture facades exhibiting such skills as fresco, mirror work, marble inlay, tile mosaic and stucco tracery are also displayed. Lok Virsa Heritage Reference Library is equipped with resource data on ethnography, anthropology, folk music, art, history and crafts. Museum and Library timings are: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Friday closed. (Tel: 9201651, 9203983). Books on culture, heritage, audio and video cassettes of folk and classical vocal and instrumental music are available for sale at Lok Virsa's Sales Centre.
A museum comprising various sections with rich archaeological finds of Taxila, arranged in chronological order and properly labeled, has been established close to the site. It is one of the best and well-maintained site museums of Pakistan. Summer timings of the museum are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with two hours break. Winter timings are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., without break. The museum remains closed on the first Monday of every month and on Muslim religious holidays. Entry ticket costs Rs.4 per person for museum and Rs.4 per person for archaeological sites.
PTDC has a Tourist Information Centre and a Motel with 7 rooms and restaurant facility, just opposite the Museum. There is a Youth Hostel nearby, offering accommodation for members of International Youth Hostels Federation (IYHF).
Opposite the old University Hall, a Mughal style building on the Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, houses the Lahore Museum. The Museum contains some fine specimens of Mughal and Sikh door-ways and wood-work and has a big collection of paintings dating back to Indo-Pakistan, Mughal, Sikh and British times. It has also a collection of musical instruments, ancient jewellery, textile, pottery and armory. There are also relics from the Graeco-Bactrian times as well as some Tibetan and Nepalese exhibits.
Peshawar Museum is housed in an imposing building of the British days. It was formerly the Victoria Memorial Hall built in 1905. The large hall, side galleries and the raised platform which were used for ball dances now display in chronological order finest specimens of Gandhara sculptures, tribal life, the Muslim period and ethnography.
QUETTA M U S E U M
Headquarters of Swat Valley, Saidu Sharif houses the Swat Museum which contains one of the finest collections of Gandhara art in the world.
Other museums are: