The National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum, popularly known as the National Crafts Museum & Hastkala Academy, celebrates the rich, diverse, and practising craft traditions of India.
Situated in a large campus at the corner of Pragati Maidan, opposite the majestic Purana Qila, the museum was designed by the renowned architect Charles Correa.
At present the Museum collection consists of over 33,000 specimens in various crafts, acquired over a period of 60 years collected from various states of India.
Some of these states are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal.
The collection reflects the continuing traditions of handicrafts and handlooms.
Museum collection consists of a variety of traditional artifacts such as Textiles, a vast range of metal lamps, sculptures, utensils etc, Wood-works, Folk/tribal paintings.
There’s a range of cane and bamboo crafts, clay and terracotta figures and a lot, lot,lot morein the Museum.
The exquisite examples of textiles include Kalamkaris, Jamawars, Pashmina and Shahtosh shawls, embroidered fabrics especially Kanthas, Chikankari works and Chaklas Tie and Die (Bandhani) fabrics.
There are Baluchari and Jamdaani Saris, Pichwais, Phulkaris, Ikat fabrics of Orissa, Chamba Rumals, Block printed textile fabrics of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Then again there are Himru textile pieces of Maharashtra, Naga shawls, Chanderi Saris and a variety of tribal textiles of the Lambadi, Toda and Naga tribes of the North- eastern India.
It was set up over a period of 30 years starting in the 1950s and 60s by the efforts of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, when the area was envisaged as an ethnographic space where craftsmen from various parts of India would come in to work towards preservation of various traditional arts and crafts.
By the 1980s the museum already had a substantial collection, and in time the museum space gradually evolved and transformed into its present shape.
Today the Museum holds over 35,000 rare and distinctive pieces reflecting the continuing tradition of Indian craftsmen through painting, embroidery, textiles, various crafts of clay, stone and wood.
All these artifacts are housed in a building designed between 1975 and 1990 by architect Charles Correa, incorporating traditional architectural vocabulary into a modern design.
Museum has a diverse and rare range of exquisite display of stone and wood carvings on the doors, windows, lintels, posts of the museum building.
Folk and Tribal paintings are sprawled on the wall canvas in the passages.
Textiles and range of objects of Cane bamboo, Clay and terracotta Metal, Stone and Wood.
Much more are displayed in five galleries, three courtyards and walk through passages of folk, tribal and traditional communities of India. There’s a library too with a vast collection of books.
NHHM has a reference Library which contains wide range of books.
It has a collection of around 10,000 books ranging from Textiles, Arts and Crafts, pottery, Terracotta, Jewelry, Religion, Tribal Art, Painting, Architecture, Woods, to Indian Culture Etc.
Various galleries within the museum include the Tribal and Rural Craft Gallery, Gallery of Courtly Crafts, Textile Gallery, Gallery of Popular Culture etc.
Some of its prized collection include, the 250-300-year-old Bhoota Collection from Karnataka, rare Kashmiri 300-year-old ‘Dushalas’, handkerchiefs from Chamba, known for their unique embroidery.
Then there are rare brocade and Baluchari Saris, Kutch embroidery, precious metal jewellery and much, much more.
The museum is popular for an exhaustive collection of textiles.
The museum also houses a village complex spread over 5-acre (20,000 m2), with 15 structures representing village dwellings, courtyards and shrines from different states of India, with items of day-to-day life displayed.
The entire village complex is a remnant of a temporary exhibition on the theme of rural India, held in 1972.
Today several traditional craftsmen in residence at the museum, can be seen working in a designated area within the museum complex, who also sell the crafts they create.
Apart from the collection, the museum houses Research and Documentation facilities, a reference library, a conservation laboratory, a photo laboratory and an auditorium.
The Museum is open from 9.30 am to 5 pm, except on Mondays. It is accessible through Pragati Maidan Delhi Metro Station.
Designed by the well –known architect Ram Sharma and Sculptor Sankho Chaudhuri for the Asia Trade Fair in 1972, the Village Complex was later incorporated into the National Crafts Museum & Hastkala Academy when it moved to its present site.
It comprises 15 structures- village dwellings, courtyards, shrines- from different parts of India, built in facsimile with skills and materials of the respective regions.