A few days ago on May 18, the world celebrated International Museum Day. Why? Well, there’s no real reason as to why May 18 was specifically chosen, however, the celebration of International Museum Day has been happening every year since 1977 – that’s over 40 years ago! The objective of International Museum Day (IMD) is to raise awareness of the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” This is according to ICOM, the International Council of Museums who started the initiative. Here in Goa, we don’t really celebrate IMD, however, for being the smallest state in India, we have close to 20 museums that house various historical artefacts. We’ve picked 5 of our favourites that we think you should definitely visit.
The Goa State Museum (as the name suggests) is Goa’s main museum. Originally located at the EDC Complex in Patto, Panaji; before that, it was housed at St. Inez, Panaji. Currently, the Museum is located at the Adil Shah’s Palace (Old Secretariat) in Panaji. The Museum’s erstwhile premises at the EDC Complex in Patto, Panaji shall be demolished to make way for a new Museum building. The Goa State Museum was established in 1977 and contains departments including Ancient History and Archaeology, Art and Craft, and Geology. As of 2008, there are over 8000 artefacts including stone sculptures, wooden objects, carvings, bronzes, paintings, manuscripts, rare coins, and anthropological objects.
The Museum of Christian Art is located in the Convent of Santa Monica in Old Goa, Goa. It is closed for renovation and refurbishment currently but will be opening soon. According to The Lonely Planet, “the excellent Museum of Christian Art contains statuary, paintings and sculptures transferred here from the Rachol Seminary. Many of the works of Goan Christian art during the Portuguese era were produced by local Hindu artists.” This particular museum has a number of objects of Christian interest, including paintings and religious silverware, some dating back to the 16th century. In addition, this convent was the first nunnery of its kind in the East and continued until the late 19th century.
The Houses of Goa Museum is in itself an extremely interesting structure. Situated in the beautiful village of Salvador du Mundo, this ‘ship-like’ structure was designed by renowned architect Gerard Da Cunha. When asked about how he has conceived the museum concept, Da Cunha says that “being an architect it is my responsibility to document the architecture as a local, who has thrived in this place, the picturesque Salvador do Mundo village in Bardez.” So he created a ship-like structure to house all the goodness in Goan architecture, which would otherwise be lost. The displays present interesting facts about European and Portuguese building practices during colonial times. The renowned Mario Gallery displaying the paintings of Goa’s legendary painter Mario Mirando is also here. The speciality of this museum is that it changes your perceptions of the traditional homes you see in Goa. After visiting this museum you understand why these homes were built in this fashion and the purpose behind it.
The Naval Aviation Museum is a really interesting museum that showcases the evolution of the Indian Navy over the decades. Located in Bogmalo which is close to Vasco da Gama in the South, this spectacular museum houses artefacts in its two main areas – an outdoor exhibit, and a two storey indoor exhibit. This particular museum is the only one of its kind in the whole of Asia! The outdoor exhibit is a huge park that visitors can walk through and see decommissioned aircraft that saw service with the Navy. Some of them date back to before the 1940s. A small shed also displays various aircraft engines. There are 13 different aircrafts on display. visitors can read and learn about key battles the Indian Air and Naval forces have participated in. The indoor gallery is divided into special rooms designated for a certain topic. Some of them are ‘armament’, which show military weapons that are attached to submarines and ships; ‘attire’ which show the progression of the uniforms worn by the members of the Indian air and naval forces over the years, among many others. You can also see a variety of bombs, torpedoes, sensors and cannons used by the Indian Navy.
The Big Foot Museum situated in the beautiful village of Loutolim is another very popular museum. Unlike the other museums on this list, this particular facility documents rural life in ancestral Goa. This offbeat museum is a must-visit for tourists looking to know what life in Goa was like back in the day. The museum consists of a miniature Goan village set up to recreate the rural life of the old days. It is privately run by an artist called Maendra Jocelino Araujo Alvares. In this model village, one can also see different miniature houses that showcase traditional occupation and social classes such as fishermen, Goan artisans, a Music school known as Escola da Musica, farmers, liquors shops, the village market, and a feni distillery. The main highlight however at Ancestral Goa is the giant 14-meter sculpture of Sant Mirabai carved in 30 days by MJA Alvares. This has been cited in the Limca book of records for being the longest laterite sculpture in India.
Did your favourite museum make the list? Let us know in the comments below.