Situated on the Bhairon Road at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, is the popular Crafts Museum, which offers a refreshing change from the hustle bustle of the hectic city life of Delhi. The Crafts Museum takes you through the rural surroundings that have been painstakingly created to imitate typical Indian villages, with craftsmen sitting outside the museum and displaying their skills. Also known as the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum, the Crafts Museum Delhi, is a huge complex that houses a wide range of traditional and creative crafts that ranges from terracotta horses to handmade jewellery from different tribes in the country.
Some of the crafts that are on display at the museum are pottery, wood carvings, metal-ware crafting, image and toys sculpturing among other things. The museum also displays folk paintings, tribal textiles along with handmade jewellery from tribes from Bihar, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh among other states. Managed by the Government of India under the expert supervision of the Ministry of Textiles, the Crafts Museum with its beautiful setting, which has been designed by a renowned architect named Charles Correa, is an exact replica of a typical Indian village.
Huts made of mud and haystacks, hay roofs that have been made in an untidy manner, pathways that have been created using mud and covered with sand are some of the scenes that greet a visitor when they enter the Crafts Museum. Various craftsmen sitting under these huts showcasing their skills and art work, which are on display and for sale as well further characterises the very essence of a village life. The rural ambience and the peaceful environs of the museum are both relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time to the museum visitors.
As you enter the Crafts Museum you are taken through a passage opening, which has been covered with a sloping tiled roof and has been tasselled with row of small windows, doors along with iron screens that run along a huge courtyard, which has pigeon huts at its periphery that are covered with dome-shaped roofs.
The Crafts Museum was built in 1956 post independence when the country felt the need to preserve its rich but fading art and craft work by launching projects to develop and exhibit these beautiful pieces of work. It was then the government created a platform like Crafts Museum, which exhibited a collection of crafts that was put together by the craftsmen between the 1950s and the 1960s. Since then the museum has grown steadily to its present size and area space.
The museum, which has been divided into five different galleries namely Bhuta Sculpture Gallery, Tribal & Folk Art, Ritual Craft Gallery, Courtly Craft Gallery and Textile Gallery, today, boasts of a huge collection of tribal and rural textiles and crafts 300years old un, all under one roof thus making Crafts Museum an ideal crafts destination for researchers, designers, students and craftsmen.
Each of these galleries display a wide range of collection of some rate and unique craft work that ranges from lamps, incense stick burners, bronze and precious metal-ware images and jewellery, stone and wood sculptures, utensils and accessories for daily use, clay pots, clay dolls and wooden toys, puppets, tribal masks and jewellery, bamboo, cane and terracotta craft work.
This apart, the museum also houses a 300 years old Bhuta sculpture that has been carved out of wood and figures of goddesses and folk deities from the coastal area of Karnataka, rare bronze figurines from the tribes of Chhattisgarh, architectural style of Gujarat carved in wood depicting havelis, jharokhas (window), balconies, along with wall hangings, bead work, rare and unique Brocade saris among other artefacts from all over the country.
In addition, the museum also features a Village Complex that was built in 1972 and is spread over an area of five acres. The main aim of this complex was to exhibit and recreate the theme of ‘Rural India’ and has 15 architectural structures depicting villages complete with courtyards and temples from all over the country.
The Crafts Museum also houses a Research and Documentation centre that has a collection of more than ten thousand books ranging on topics like Indian Crafts, Arts and Textile Industry, History all under one library, which is open to all for reference and reading.