Government Museum Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Housed across the British-built Pantheon Complex, this excellent museum is Chennai’s best. The big highlight is building 3, the Bronze Gallery, with a superb collection of South Indian bronzes from the 7th-century Pallava era through to modern times, and English-language explanatory material.
It was from the 9th to 11th centuries, in the Chola period, that bronze sculpture peaked. Among the Bronze Gallery’s impressive pieces are many of Shiva as Nataraja, the cosmic dancer, and a superb Chola bronze of Ardhanarishvara, the androgynous incarnation of Shiva and Parvati.
The main building (No 1) has a good archaeological section representing all the major South Indian periods from 2nd-century-BC Buddhist sculptures to 16th-century Vijayanagar work, with special rooms devoted to Hindu, Buddhist and Jain sculpture. Building 2, the Anthropology Galleries, traces South Indian human history back to prehistoric times, displaying tribal artefacts from across the region.
The museum also includes the National Art Gallery, Contemporary Art Gallery and Children’s Museum, on the same ticket. You may find some sections temporarily closed for renovation.
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