Dr. Bhau Daji Lad, a doctor by profession and a humanist by nature, was the benefactor of the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1857. The history of museum reveals that it was planned with an amount of Rupees 6,000, at the initiative of Dr. Bhau but it was not until 1872 when it was finally constructed. The Britisher’s wanted to promote the works of the industry and so they came up with the innovative idea of building a museum, on the lines of the Museum of London.
It is one of the oldest museums of Mumbai. The museum displays the history of Mumbai, its old seven islands, the various works of ivory, brass, pottery, coins and sculpture used in those days. It has special sections on the social and cultural life in India also.
On my visit to the museum, I read something interesting about how Mumbai got its name. In the early days, the Britishers called it the Portuguese term, ‘Bom Bahai’ or ‘Good Bay’
, keeping in mind, the seven islands that constitute it. Later, in the 20th century was named after the famous ‘Mumbadevi’, the goddess of the Kolis as Mumbai. The temple of ‘Mumbai Devi’ exists even today.
The marvelous structure of building had lost its sheen with the times, but thanks to Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Mumbai (INTACH) that has renovating the museum with utmost care. Now the museum is called ‘Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum’.
Apart from the above compilation, the museum has over 4,000 reference books and manuscripts in its supervision. The clay models, costumes, finely shaped silver, copper ware etc, are amongst the most-cherished compilation which is worth taking a glance. Victoria & Albert Museum also contains typical photographs of early Bombay and testimonials from the colonial past. The half-done collection was first exhibited to Lord Canning in 1856.
Today, Bhau Daji Lad Museum is revived in its appearance, with gold ornamentations on wall corners, ceilings, hand railings and blue-painted pillars.