An old bungalow
standing almost dilapidated on the beach road at Waltair, in Visakhapatnam, is known
to the locals as "Dutch Bungalow". This building was in
occupation by various families till the late 70s, but no one ever dreamt
that it would one day become the home of "Visakha Museum".
The bungalow and
the land around it was alienated to VUDA for development in the 1980s. Originally it was thought that the Bungalow would make way for a five-star hotel.
Founding members of the Visakha Historical Society and other
public-spirited citizens rallied around and appealed to the authorities to preserve the
building and utilise it for a public purpose. Good sense prevailed and it was
decided to renovate and preserve the Bungalow for public use.
So it was that our
"Visakha Museum" has the distinction of being one of the very
few museums in the country housed in a preserved old building. The credit for the
renovation of the old Dutch Bungalow goes to one Mr. Sarma, the
Engineer-in-charge of this project in VUDA. The "Dutch-ness" of the
building was retained, barring the inevitable ceramic floor-tiles and the steel-and-glass
showcases. The renovated Dutch Bungalow was purchased by the Municipal Corporation
from VUDA and the Museum was established in it.
Commissioner of MCV
S.P.Singh, IAS, is credited with planting the administrative
seeds for setting up a Museum in the city. However, it is widely acknowledged that
the First Citizen of the city, Mayor D.V. Subba Rao and the then
Municipal Commissioner Sameer Sharma were instrumental in converting the dreams of
Vizagites of having a Museum in the city into a reality.
of Visakhapatnam had a grand-gala opening on the 8th
October 1991 by the then Honourable Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
N. Janardana Reddy.
is primarily a historical one which would act as a repository of artifacts and
documents relating to the history of people, events and institutions of the largest
district of "Vizagapatam" of the erstwhile "Madras Presidency" of the
pre-Independence era, which extended from Tuni in East Godavari district up to
Ganjam in neighbouring Orissa.
The following is a
list of notable exhibits arranged according to museological grouping :
PORTRAITS, oil on canvas : Standing portraits, some
of them life-size, of members of the royal family of Vizianagaram and Bobbili.
ARMOURY : Two full suits of armour, two stands of spears and
muzzle loading guns, several ancient weapons such as steel bows.
HAND GUNS : English handguns and revolvers
of various types are acquired from the Police Armoury, having been decommissioned on the
transfer of power on the 15th August 1947. At least one revolver has an
inscription in French.
SWORDS AND DAGGERS : A large collection of
daggers and long-bladed swords and bodices of chain-mail are also in the collection.
HELMETS : Three varieties of helmets are
identified, resembling designs of British, and probably
those of Greek / Roman and Viking.
TAXIDERMY EXHIBITS : Two magnificent Bengal
tigers (stuffed) which are hunting trophies of Jeypore Royalty are excellent examples of
the art and science of taxidermy. Valuable HEIRLOOMS of Ankitam
family consisting of an antique Buddhist Pagoda, a silk skirt, RAMAYANA
on palm-leaf, costume jewellery and medallions are donated by their descendants.
Astronomical instruments from the A.V. Jagga Rao Observatory of the 90s in Vizag
PORCELAIN AND GLASS : A dinner set of
porcelain with family coat of-arms inclusive of Telugu script which was made in 1920's in
Czechoslovakia and glass wine set are from Bobbili Royal family.
ARTIFACTS / MEMORABILIA FROM LOCAL INSTITUTIONS :
ST. Aloysius School : Shell of a 250-lb
bomb dropped by Japanese on Vizag during II World War, which fortunately did not explode.
Limited: Coconut broken by the
First Prime Minister Jawaharalal Nehru when launching the first India-built ship S.S.
Jala Usha and a model of the ship.
VISAKHAPATNAM PORT TRUST :
Bronze busts of port officers including Nanjundiah, its first Indian Chairman.
When the Museum
was inaugurated, the exhibits listed above formed its 'core'.
Subsequently, the Honorary Curator Prof. E. V. Gangadharam augmented the museum collection,
with the following items:
GANDHI MEMORABILIA. A desk used by
Mahatma Gandhi and later by late Sri Tenneti Viswanatham along with photographs of the
Mahatma walking with other personalities of Vizag and photos of the Ankitam House in
which Gandhiji stayed while in Vizag.
FELICITATIVE DECORATIONS of the first
Poet-Laureate Sripada Krishnamurthi Sastry : Suvarna Gandapenderam, Mani
MahaMahopa-dhyaya insignia and medallions; An invaluable collection of 32 works of art by
the celebrated artist of Andhra, Adivi Bapiraju; A Burmese silver bowl with Budda Jataka
Katha on it; old violins from Germany and Czechoslovakia; old watches, clocks, documents,
photographs and a collection of over 200 rare and old books from the personal libraries of
prominent personalities of Vizag with which the Museum Library was started. Prof.
E.V. Gangadharam Director, Centre for Marine Archaeology, is the Honorary Curator of the