Store Review: The Museum Shop

June 28, 2011 12:54 pm by

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum) has been undergoing a resurgence of late. Last year, the Miniature wing was unveiled after extensive refurbishment and the conservation department was significantly upgraded, while this April saw the opening of the Jehangir Nicholson wing. Last week, the CSMVS inaugurated its new visitors’ centre. Designed by renowned architect Rahul Mehrotra, it houses new ticket booths and a glass-boxed store that overlooks the museum and its gardens.

Museum stores in Mumbai are a sad affair (you only have to cross the road to the National Gallery of Modern Art to see what we mean). They are usually an afterthought consisting of a desk with a few catalogues and tired old trinkets. The new CSMVS store, a repository for museum catalogues and other knick knacks sourced from craftsmen around the country, is thus a long over-due extension to a cultural institution that showcases the country’s heritage. Though not perhaps as comprehensive as it could be, it offers a happy few minutes of pottering, a diverse price range (from Rs50 to Rs16,000) and a breathtaking view of the museum.

The selection of books—they have several publications by Marg and the Bombay Natural History Society—is mostly random, encompassing Indian cook books, museum catalogues of current and past shows as well as a smattering of DVDs like Shilpa’s Yoga and Jungle Book that seem to be there for no particular reason. Other than this limited selection—the store manager told us they’d wait to see what moved before expanding inventory—there’s plenty of other goodies to choose from. We loved the printed durries, which start as low as Rs350, the enamel jewellery, and the leather wall puppets of Ram and Laxman.

Some things, like a wooden cheese platter and a silver-inlay hookah, seem like odd but gift-appropriate inclusions, which like everything in the store have been made by master craftsmen from across the country, whose wares the CSMVS intends to showcase. A small nook devoted to the city has postcards, lovely framed photos of old Bombay, dinky canvas bags printed with Mumbai slogans and motifs, and a few books. There’s also glass cases displaying pottery, tribal jewellery and leather lamps, and a children’s section with books, DVDs, art kits, pencils and puppets. You could probably find pretty much everything sold here between Contemporary Arts & Crafts, The Bombay Store and Fab India, but you’re not likely to get as affordable a price range or as lovely a view.