History museums are a wonderful way to learn about the history and culture of the country that you are visiting. The Government Museum in Chennai is no exception and was interesting for a variety of reasons. It is the second oldest museum in India and also contains the largest collection of Roman antiquities outside of Europe. The main building of the museum complex is architecturally interesting and is a remnant of British rule. The museum can be quite busy, so you will need to have patience as you wait in lines to view some of the exhibits.
There are many ancient statues on the grounds of the museum that are displayed on stone pedestals, which are truly fascinating. Inside the museum there are many different displays with everything from zoological, archeological, cultural, historical, and artistic exhibits. The museum is very popular with the local schools and the students were by far the majority of the visitors while we were in the museum. Also, there didn’t appear to be many, if any, foreigners in the museum other than ourselves, which made for a unique experience as we felt as much on display as the exhibits themselves.
The information on the exhibits is provided in both the native Tamil as well as English, making it easy for us to understand what it was that we were seeing. Like many things in India, the variety of what is found within the museum can be somewhat overwhelming, but fascinating all the same. It is definitely a bit of a different experience than visiting museums in other places, but well worth taking the time to see while in Chennai.