People visiting Delhi are often so fascinated by the large monuments or lanes of Connaught Place. These are surely some mesmerizing places, but in the middle of these, amazing places like Shankar’s International Doll Museum goes unnoticed.
This museum is situated on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and is standing since the time Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was our president. This place is founded by political cartoonist, K. Shankar Pillai who is also a collector of dolls.
He decided to set up a Children’s book trust in 1957 which was one of the first steps for the welfare of children’s education. Following this, he got the idea of collecting dolls when a Hungarian diplomat gifted him one. As Shankar began to collect dolls, he had a collection of around 500 dolls from different countries.
He would occasionally showcase them in exhibitions. At one of those exhibitions, Indira Gandhi visited with her father and was quite fascinated, therefore, she teamed up with Shankar to set up this museum that officially started on 30 November 1965.
This museum has 1000 when dolls when it started and currently has a collection of about 6000 dolls from around 85 countries of the world. The museum has two major sections. On one side, dolls from Middle East, Asian countries, India and Africa are displayed. On the other side, dolls from European countries, USA, New Zealand and Australia are displayed.
The dolls present in this museum have also received first prize award namely Golden Peacock Feather at Dolls Biennale that was held in the year 1980 in Cracow, Poland. Apart from this, the dolls that attract most viewers are Kabuki and Samurai dolls from Japan, UK's Queen collections, Maypole dance replica dolls of Hungary, Orchestra of women from Thailand, etc.
Apart from these dolls, museum has 150 types of Indian dolls representing the culture, heritage and art forms of the nation. These dolls are dressed in sarees, suits and traditional wear from all the states in the country. Also, there are little bride and groom dolls in the collection showing the wedding traditions of India. This allows the person to learn about the country through representation by dolls.
These dolls are made at a workshop that is attached to the museum itself. Indian dolls that are made in this workshop are often exchanged for gifts received from abroad or sold to those who wish to collect them. There is a lot of hard work and research that goes into the making of this doll. Apart from this workshop, there is also a clinic for sick dolls where the dolls are sent if there is any kind of damage.
Although, the museum is currently closed due to corona virus but it is just temporary. On regular days, the museum is open from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm without any breaks with the exception of Monday when the museum remains close. Although, the museum closes at 6:00 pm, the ticket counter is not open after 5:30 pm.