Nepal’s countryside is breathtaking, its people astounding, and its culture incredible.
There are, of course, a few museums throughout that you should seriously consider visiting if you want to truly understand the country’s rocky history. Consider the following:
9. The National Museum
The National Museum is located near Swayambhunath Hill and is frequently visited by residents of Kathmandu. The museum houses a myriad of ancient artifacts portraying what life was like in the early part of the last century. You’ll find a large display of firearms as well as a ton of information regarding war history and the plight of the country as it aimed to protect itself from the British Raj. The collection includes coins, statues, murals, and paintings.
8. The Museum of Natural History
Also located near Swayambhunath Hill, the Museum of Natural History is sadly one of the least visited museums in the valley area. The museum, which is closed on Saturdays and holidays, has a huge display of Himalayan butterflies as well as a collection of other plants, snakes, and rare bird species.
7. The National Bronze Art Museum
The National Bronze Art Museum , also known as the Patan Museum, is located in Durbar Square in Patan Durbar. The museum houses a collection of incredible bronze artwork. All of the artwork in the museum was created by local artisans. The collection, totaling around 900 pieces, includes bronze works representing various religious, including Buddhist and Hindu. Works of art found in this museum date as far back as the 11th century AD. A few pieces are believed to date as far back as the reign of the Lichhavi kings.
6. The Bronze and Brass Museum
The Bronze and Brass Museum, not to be confused with the National Bronze Art Museum, is located in an old building near Pujari Math. The pieces in this museum include common everyday house wares, including lamps, horns, water pots, and worship platters. The pieces were carefully selected and displayed in order to show visitors to the region how simplistic Bhaktapur life really was. There are also a few more intricate pieces, such as an ornately decorated ink pot, meant to portray the interest of past kings in education and writing.
5. The Tribhuvan Museum
Located within the Hanuman Dhoka Palace, the Tribhuvan Museum sits in what was once the central palace for the Shah kings. Exhibits throughout the museum portray the lives of various kings including, of course, King Tribhuvan. If you head towards the Basantapur Tower, part of the museum complex, you’ll have the opportunity to look out over the landscape of Kathmandu. Old legends claim that one of the more benevolent kings used to sit in the tower and watch over the city to make sure every home was cooking food each day. The museum itself is filled with paintings, Malla architecture, and old carvings.
4. Kaiser Library
In Thamel, one of the main tourist attractions in Nepal, you’ll find the incredible Kaiser Library. The library represents the collection of more than 30,000 works accumulated over the years by Kaiser Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana. The books, which span across a wide variety of subjects (including fiction and nonfiction) were a point of pride for Kaiser Shumsher. He had many of his books imported from other countries and it is believed that he knew the contents of some of them by heart.
3. The National Art Gallery
Located within the Palace of Fifty-five Windows is The National Art Gallery. The palace itself is known for being the first in Kathmandu to be constructed with glass, a material many of the kings knew about but could not get produce for construction. The palace houses an astounding collection of paintings, stonework, and even scriptures.
2. The National Woodworking Museum
The National Woodworking Museum can be found in Dattatreya Square and is one of the most interesting, if not surprising, museums in Nepal. You may expect to see a series of stand-alone exhibits but the secret is that the museum building itself is the main exhibit. Visitors enjoy looking at the intricately carved windows, doors, and pillars. Constructed by King Yaksha Malla during the 15th century, not much of the original building actually remains.
1. Asa Archives
Image credit: Stas Kulesh
The collection at Asa Archives is of particular interest to those interested in medieval history and literature. Inside the museum, found in the western section of Kathmandu, you’ll find more than 7,000 handwritten books and documents, some loose leaf and some written on palm leafs. Almost every document is written in either Nepalbhasa or Sanskrit.
Explore as much of Nepal as you can while you’re there. Ask the concierge at your hotel in Nepal to direct you towards the nearest museum or historical site. The country, its museums, and its people will leave a lifelong impression.