The Sangeet Natak Akademi is situated in Rabindra Bhavan on Ferozshah Road in New Delhi and is known to be the first Academy set up in India for Performing Arts like Drama, Music and Dance. The nearest metro station is the Central Secretariat Station where one can de-board to reach here or alternatively, tourists can also avail local transport.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi which means 'Music and Drama Academy' was established as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Indian Government on 31st May 1952 and was deemed as an important Title of India in June 1952. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India inaugurated the opening of the centre and the formation of the representatives of the All India Council of this centre with Dr. P. V. Rajamannar appointed as the first Chairman on 28th January 1953 at a special function organised at the Parliament House. After this, the Akademi (Academy) became immediately operational and even today, any Awards, Scholarships and Fellowships received from this Academy are held at a very high esteem and considered extremely prestigious. Awardees are gifted a prize amount of INR 50,000.00 along with a Tamrapatra and a Shawl. Later, on 11th September 1961, the Academy was re-organised by the Indian Government and its functions expanded and registered as a part of the Societies Registration Act of 1860 and the amended Act of 1957.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi has been a nodal centre for India's performing arts right from its inception stage that has not only delivered distinguished actors and excellence in this field but has also continuously preserved and propagated this incredible Heritage and diverse talent of India. In 1959, the National School of Drama was established and later in 1964, the National institute of Kathak Dance or 'Kathak Kendra' along with the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy were set up in New Delhi. This Academy also partakes in leading and supervising numerous projects and institutes of national significance in the field of Music, Dance and Drama like supporting and launching the ancient Sanskrit Theatre of Kerala named 'Kuttiyattam', East India's 'Chhau' Dance and Assam's Traditional 'Sattriya' in 1991. After a decade, the 'Kuttiyattam' was declared as an Oral Intangible Masterpiece of the Heritage of Arts under the UNESCO band.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi holds over 2,000 items relating to Performing Arts like a large Heritage collection of over 600 Musical Instruments belonging to different states and regions of India. These Instruments have been methodically acquired since 1968 and displayed in a wide Museum of a Musical Instrument Gallery named as 'Asavari' which was inaugurated on 13th February 1964 by Yehudi Menuhin who is an eminent violinist. After several acquisitions and instruments presented as gifts from eminent personalities and visiting actors, the Gallery today exhibits over 600 Musical Instruments belonging to Folks, Tribal States and different regions of India and out of these 250 instruments belonging to the different streams of music are on permanent display like the Flute (Bansuri) and Nagaswaram (Wind Instruments); Veena and Dilruba (String Instruments) and Tabla, Bortal, Mridangam and Ghatam (Percussion Instruments). Other rare Musical Instruments like the North Indian Kachwa Sitar and Tamil Nadu's Gettu Vadyam are also seen on display. Even today this Gallery is continuously acquiring unique and rare Instruments from various parts of the Country. Amongst the 2,000 Items, the Museum also showcases Uttar Pradesh's Zari Masks, Jharkhand's Chhau Masks and Kerala's Krishnattam Masks, String Puppets called 'Kathputli' from Rajasthan and 'Kalasutri Bahulya' from Maharashtra, Glove Puppets called 'Benir Putul' from West Bengal and Shadow Puppets called 'Tolu Bomalatta' from Andhra Pradesh and many others.
The Sangeet Natak Museum also holds a rich collection of documents based on India's diverse Performing Arts which can be referred to by anyone especially students and scholars for study and research purposes. The Audio and Visual Library consisting of a wide collection of Tapes, Films and Photographs is known to be one of the largest in the Country and the Library of 22,000 books in English, Hindi and different Indian languages based on various topics about performing arts, theories, folklores, tribal, Indian, Religion, Anthropology, Mythology and Epic Stories along with Dictionaries, Encyclopaedias, Bibliographies, Clippings of Newspapers on the works, awards and famous personalities of music, dance and drama theatre since its inception are available for reference which attracts numerous Scholars from the field of Performing Arts. This Library accepts memberships at a refundable rate of INR 100.00 for Students, Scholars (Delhi) and Researchers, however, Scholars from other parts of the Country and exempted from this fee.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi also provides aid to Institutes of Performing Arts for study, research, documentation and publishing purposes and along with this Seminars and Conferences are also frequently organised. It also has Three Theatres named as 'Meghdoot' constituting of one Open Auditorium, a Semi-Open Auditorium and an Indoor Auditorium. This Academy is opened to all free of charge for viewing and Library for reference purpose between 0930 hours and 1730 hours from Mondays to Fridays only as it remains closed on all Gazetted National Holidays and Festivals. Photography and filming are also free of charge for any visitor.