, Mumbai, India, by George Wittet (1878-1926), Consulting Architect to the Government of Bombay at that time. Founded in 1904, with the Prince of Wales himself laying the foundation stone in 11 November 1905 (see "Royal Visit"). It was completed in 1914, although not opened as a museum until 1922, having been put to other uses during and after World War I. It was built of "locally quarried grey Kurla basalt and a buff trachyte Malad stone" (Basu) and stands on Mahatma Gandhi Road in the Fort locality of Mumbai.
Wittet's design did not actually win the competition for the museum. Nevertheless, he received the commission in 1908 because he was on the spot (see "George Wittet"). He had to bow to pressure from the committee to change his ideas and adopt the Indo-Saracenic style, so that the new building would harmonise with the General Post Office nearby, now under construction. This had been designed by John Begg (1866-1937), under whom Wittet had served as assistant from 1904-07 (see Chopra 56). Although Begg had moved on to become Consulting Architect to the Government of India, he clearly still had much influence. Wittet himself said, perhaps rather grudgingly, "The real reason why it [the museum] is so, is because it was instructed that the design should be Indian in character" (qtd. in "History").
However, the final design was a great success. According to the museum's own website,
The Indian pillared hall, the arched pavilion, the dome rising above the huge intersecting arches forming a beautiful geometrical pattern — all these together make the Museum building a typical example of the Indo-Saracenic style. Small jalis for light and wind add to the grandeur of the building. George Wittet skilfully incorporated the original wooden arched pavilion purchased from a royal house (wada) at Nasik in Maharashtra, as a circular railing on the first floor of the building. The dome of this building is designed after the Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur and the finial is copied from the Taj at Agra.
Samuel Sheppard tells us that this magnificent building "is only the central block of three that were intended" (117). But another wing was added in 1937, after his book was published and long after Wittet's death (Chopra 57).
Basu, Mihika. The Museum Built by the British, with Kurla basalt and Malad stone." 3 December 2013. Archives of the Indian Express. Web. 14 March 2018.
Chopra, Preeti. A Joint Enterprise: Indian Elites and the Making of British Bombay. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.
"History." Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. Web. 14 March 2018.
John Begg. Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Web. 14 March 2018.
"Royal Visit to India, 1905-1906." Royal Visit to India. Web. 14 March 2018.
Sheppard, Samuel T. Bombay. Bombay: Times of India Press, 1932. Internet Archive. Digital Library of India. Web. 14 March 2018.
Created 14 March 2018