Mysore is a hustling modern city that is very rich in history, art, and culture. This historical past is evident in the city’s palaces and temples, and it has been carefully preserved in the museums of the city too.
There are two main art museums in Mysore. The Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery, known as the Chamatrajendra Art Gallery and the Jaganmohan Art Gallery too. Both are filled with evidence of Mysore’s rich cultural past and are home to art and artifacts, previously owned by the Royal family.
1. Jaganmohan Art Gallery
The Jaganmohan Art Gallery, that is located in the Jaganmohan Palace, exhibiting various works of priceless artifacts, art, portraits and murals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is the home to paintings depicting the genealogy of the Kings of Mysore. Paintings by famous Indian and international artists, historical musical instruments and paintings of the Dasara procession in all its grandeur. A visit to these museums gives you an overall general idea of the great patronage extended to arts by the Mysore Kings.
2.The Private Residential Museum
It portrays the unique lifestyle and personality of the Kings of Mysore. On display are replicas of the grand rooms they once lived. These include personal items and various treasures from the personal collection of the Kings of Mysore. Visiting the museum exhibits the grand life of Royalty and the exquisite craftsmanship of both the structures and material wealth the Royal families were engulfed in.
3. Regional Museum of Natural History
Regional Museum of Natural History is a modern museum located in Mysore. It provides a fascinating and detailed information on the natural environment surrounding the city. The museum offers additional educational lectures and tours describing ways to conserve and protect the future of Mysore too.
The historical city of Mysore added another landmark with the opening of the Regional Museum of Natural History (RMNH) on 20th May 1995. Located on the banks of Karanji lake, and with the backdrop of Chamundi hills, the Museum provides unique opportunity to explore nature and natural world through judicious mix of models, translites, AV aids, diorama, thematic, interactive and participatory exhibits. The learning in the captivating environment of the Museum is indeed a fun
and truly enjoyable.
The broad objectives of the Museum are:
1 Depict floral, faunal and geological wealth of the southern region of India.
2 Depict ecological interrelationship among plants and animals with emphasis on conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
3 Provide out of school facility for school children on curriculum-based studies in biology and geology with emphasis on environmental aspect.
4 Develop programmers for masses to create environmental awareness.
4. The Railway museum
It was the first and only establishment in India of its kind. It presents the history of the Mysore railways featuring commercial coal burning freighters, to steam powered passenger trains, however, the highlight is witnessing the Royal Family carriage used to transport the royal family throughout India. Founded in the year 1979 by Indian Railways, Rail Museum in Mysore was second such museum after the Railway Museum in Delhi. The museum also is around 3 km from the city center. An outdoor exhibit of locomotives is one of the striking features of this museum.
The royal carriages gifted by the Maharaja of Mysore are the prized possession of the museum. One of these is Sri Ranga Pavilion with its two royal coaches of the Maharaja of Wodeyar. Along with this, there is also “Maharaja Saloon’ at the museum that has a dining car area, a kitchen and a toilet that can be traced back to the year 1189 and an Austin rail motor car. This is an ‘E class engine that was made in 1925.
5. The Folklore Museum
It is known as the Folk Art Museum as well, exhibits various objects and artifacts of folklore from all over Karnataka. It also showcases the tools used by different folk artists. The Folklore Museum in Mysore was founded in the year 1968. It is a collection of art and crafts all over Karnataka. Located at the premises of the University of Mysore in the Manasagangothri campus it represents the culture of the state of Karnataka in a microcosmic form. Many well-known scholars have over the years increased the collection of the Folklore Museum too. It exhibits not only various items of folklore, but also elements of dance, drama and music.
The museum has a spectacular collection of more than 6,500 unique folklore exhibits. The museum exhibits have been organized in systematic order according to the folk art forms. The gallery is divided into wings for folklore, large dolls, folklife, literature and art.
The folklore section has several valuable collections.
It has on display the costumes of Yakshagana. It has props and accessories of both Thenka thittu and Badgu Thittu, the northern and southern forms of Yakshagana. A rare and valuable Hanuman crown from Kugala Balli village in North Karnataka. Costumes of Kathakali from Kerala. Costumes of folk dramatists from Andhra Pradesh. Masks, puppets, leather dolls, sawdust dolls from various parts of Karnataka, in which regional and historical influences can be perceived. Items representing to Soliga community. Ink preparation at Dodderi village of Chithradurga about 200 years ago. The mantapa, an ornamental wooden altar, used by Jnanapeeta awardee Kuvempu.
Folk musical instruments include string, percussion and wind instruments. String instruments include kinnari of the Jogis, the choudike and Tamburi of the Tatwa Pada singers, string instrument of the Nilagaras falls. Percussion instruments include birapana dollu, Gondaliga’s sambala, Halakki Gowda’s gummate, chande, and dimmi dammadi, the damaruga of Goravas, and the nagari. Wind instruments include junjappana gane- a three-feet long flute, the kombu, kahale and pungi. Collection of figures, representing gods, kings, queens, gods, hermits and soldiers. Folk deities, ceremonial headwear, religious objects, village deities like Soma and Bhutha.
The large doll wing has statues and large dolls used in dances which include Soma, Talebhutha, Kaibhutha, Maari, and Gadi Maari. The folklife wing has instruments used by farmers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, boatmen, fishermen, potters, cobblers and other artisans. It also includes household items like lamps, weapons, agriculture implements, cooking utensils, measures, churns, weaving implements, pots, beads, baskets, items of folk games and clothing.