Ref NoRC/82
TitleIndia Museum
DescriptionIn May 1874 the Secretary of State for India took a lease of the Eastern Galleries on the Commissioners' Estate for the India House Collections, the building being let by the Commissioners specifically on condition that the collections may not be divided. The Eastern and Western Galleries were built for the Annual International Exhibitions which took place from 1871 to 1874 and which were then discontinued.

The core collections of the India Museum were the property of the Honourable East India Company and arose in part from the 1851 Exhibition. After the Mutiny of 1857 and the dissolution of the East India Company, the collections became the property of the India Office, i.e. the British Government, and were considerably supplemented over the years by items presented by retired Indian Service officials and Indian Princes as well as by many loan collections.

In 1879 the Secretary of State for India informed the Commissioners that he was considering the dispersal of the Indian collections in the Eastern Galleries in order to relieve the Indian Government of the charge of the Museum. While the Commissioners did not object to the removal of the collections of economic botany and natural history, they emphasised the importance of keeping together the objects illustrating the art, manufactures and industries of India, as well as of attempting to make the Museum more attractive to the public. Some of the best sculptures were indeed transferred to the British Museum, with the botanical and natural history collections going to Kew and the Natural History Museum respectively, but the views and intervention of the Commissioners prevented wholesale dispersal and preserved the identity of the Museum. Government responsibility was transferred to the Science and Art Department and the collections therefore ultimately became part of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Eastern Galleries, which had remained the home of the India Museum, were demolished in 1956 for the expansion of Imperial College and the Indian collections were moved to the Victoria and Albert Museum with the more important part put on exhibition.
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