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The Salarjung Museum is the third largest museum in India housing the biggest one-man collections of antiques in the world. It is well known throughout India for its prized collections belonging to different civilizations dating back to the 1st century. Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III (1889-1949), former Prime Minister of the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, spent a substantial amount of his income over thirty five years to make this priceless collection, his life's passion. The collections left behind in his ancestral palace, 'Diwan Deodi' were formerly exhibited there as a private museum which was inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1951. Old timers believe that the present collection constitutes only half of the original art wealth amassed by Salar Jung III. His employees siphoned off part of it, since Salar Jung was a bachelor and depended upon his staff to keep a vigil. Some more art pieces were lost or stolen during the shifting of the museum from Dewan Devdi to the present site.
Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III The Salarjung Museum is a royal treat to the connoisseurs with a collection of over 43000 art objects and 50000 books and manuscripts. The collections include Indian Art, Middle Eastern Art, Far Eastern Art, European Art, Children Art along with a Founders gallery and a rare manuscript section. Indian Art includes stone sculptures, bronze images, jade carvings, painted textiles, wood carvings, miniature paintings, modern art, ivory carvings, textiles, metal-ware, manuscript, arms & armour etc. Middle Eastern Art contains the collection of carpets, paper (manuscripts), glass, metal-ware, furniture, lacquer etc. from Persia, Arabia, Syria, and Egypt. Collection of Far Eastern Art exhibit porcelain, bronze, enamel, lacquerware, embroidery, painting, wood & inlay work from China, Japan, Tibet, Nepal and Thailand etc. Oil and watercolor paintings form an important part of the European Collection.
The museum building in a semicircular shape with 38 galleries, spread on two floors, displays only a part of the original collections. The ground floor has 20 galleries and the first floor has 18 galleries. The exhibits on different subjects are displayed in separate galleries.
Apart from the galleries, there is a reference Library, reading room, publication and education section, chemical conservation lab, sales counter, cafeteria etc. Guides are available at fixed timings free of charge
There are Aurangzeb's sword, daggers belonging to empress Noor Jehan, emperors Jehangir and Shah Jehan, the turbans and chair of Tippu Sultan, furniture from Egypt, paintings on display. Among the sculptures stands out the world famous statue of Veiled Rebecca, her beautiful face hazily visible through a marble but gossamer veil. Equally captivating is a double-figure wood sculpture done by G.H. Benzoni, an Italian sculptor, in 1876. It stands before a mirror and shows the facade of a nonchalant Mephistopheles and the image of a demure Margaretta in the mirror
A bewildering variety and array of clocks greets the visitor in the clock room. There are ancient Sandiaers in the form of obelisks to huge and modern clocks of the twentieth century. Others in the range vary from miniature clocks which need a magnifying glass to imbibe their beauty and complexity to stately grandfather clocks from as far away as France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Britain. A visual delight is the musical clock Salar Jung bought from Cook and Kelvy of England, a virtual mechanical marvel. Every hour, a timekeeper emerges from the upper deck of the clock to strike a gong as many times as it is the hour of the day.
Indian Government had declared the museum an Institution of National Importance.