Located at the back of the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi, this museum contains many important and beautiful artefacts of the Portuguese rule in India. Its treasures are divided amongst eight galleries. The most important of these are considered to be the portraits of the long-dead Viceroys and Governors of Goa.
The museum also has a phenomenal collection of stamps, religious artefacts and other such treasures.
Where to Go
Housed in the convent formerly attached to the heritage Church of St. Francis of Assisi, this museum is in the heart of the most historic part of Goa, i.e. Velha Goa. It is close to a number of other monuments in this place, like the Se Cathedral, the Church of St. Cajetan, the Bom Jesus Basilica, St. Augustine’s tower and the Nunnery of Santa Monica as well as the Museum of Christian Art that is housed there.
When to Go
The Archaeological Museum of Goa is open from 10am to 5pm from Saturday to Thursday. It remains closed to the public on Fridays. Although this museum in Old Goa sees the maximum number of visitors during the height of the tourist season, from October to May, it is also a great way to spend a rainy afternoon during the monsoon months.
What to See
The extensive collection covers the Portuguese rule in Goa, and also the pre-historic and early historic and late medieval periods of Goan history. The museums treasures include lovely fragments of sculpture from Hindu temple sites in Goa, and some Sati stones, i.e. stone which once marked the spot where a woman immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.
Besides these there two larger than life bronze statues, portraits of the Viceroys of Goa, spanning the 400 year Portuguese rule, postage stamps, coins issued by various Hindu, Muslim and Portuguese rulers, wooden sculptures, pillars, hero stones, Persian and Arabic inscriptions and Portuguese weapons comprised of rifles, swords and daggers.
Visitors are greeted by a bronze statue of Afonso de Albuquerque in the visitors lobby along with maps of seafaring routes and maps of Goa. There are also pictures of various historical monuments in Goa, Daman and Diu.
The first gallery is the Key Gallery which shows a timeline of the history of Goa through the artefacts on display, starting with middle and upper Paleolithic stone tools, Microliths and a few Neolithic Celts. Visitors will also find the excavated materials from Chandor; one of the ancient capital cities of Goa. The ground plan of an ancient Brahmanical temple and early historical antiquities; cast copper coins of 3rd century BC, copper nails, rings, etc. are also on display.
The most notable treasures are:
- The bronze statue of Luís Vaz de Camões, a prominent Portuguese poet, which once stood in the main square in Velha Goa.
- Vishnu with ten incarnations carved from grey basalt rock and dated to the 11th century
- An upright statue of Surya dated to the 12th century
- Hero stone and sati stone one depicting a fight in country boats while the other depicts a Kadamba naval battle.
- The wooden sculpture of John the Baptist
- The ivory sculptures of Jesus’ Crucifixion
- The large bronze statue of Afonso de Albuquerque (first governor of Goa), which once stood in the centre of the Azad Maidan in Panaji city.
- Portrait of Vasco da Gama the Portuguese explorer who reached India in 1498
History and Construction
The Museum was initially set up in 1964 by the Archaeological survey of India (ASI). Originally confined to one long hallway, it was later expanded in 1982. A wide staircase was added to allow for access to the first floor.
An annexe building was also constructed to give the museum more floor space. The entire floor was laid with teakwood flooring, in order to facilitate continuity in the architecture of the old and new spaces. The entire museum is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
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