Shankar's Doll Museum
Shankar's Doll Museum of International calibre was conceptualised and established by a renowned Political Cartoonist named Keshav Shankar Pillai. Located at 4 Nehru House within the 1st floor of the Children's Book Trust Building on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg (Road) in New Delhi, it is accessible by local transport and metro rail with New Delhi Metro Station as the nearest link.
Mr. Keshav Shankar Pillai also known by all as 'Shankar' who founded this world class Doll Museum was born on 31st July 1902 in Kayamkulam, Kerala. After completing his education from Maharaja's College of Science in Trivandrum, he shifted to Mumbai where he enrolled in Law College and however quit and began working. Mr. Pillai was always inclined towards sketching cartoon figures as a hobby. Soon, he began making cartoon sketches of Political figures and personalities which greatly attracted the Press and Public. In 1932, he was offered a job at the Hindustan Times as a cartoonist and continued up till 1946. He contributed immensely during the years of Indian Struggle for Independence as a cartoonist which is remembered and treasured in the field of Journalism even today. Later, in 1948, he began to publish his Weekly magazine named 'Shankar' but closed operations in August 1975. In 1957, he then founded the Children's Book Trust (CBT) and concentrated only towards developing it extensively during his entire lifetime.
Shankar's Doll Museum has the largest collection of Dolls in their respective regional and international costumes from all corners of the world. It spans over a massive area of 5184.5 square feet on the first floor of the CBT Building with a separate entrance. This museum is segregated into two sections and has a 1000-feet long and 160 glass cases mounted on each wall of each section. One portion is dedicated to a collection of Dolls from Commonwealth Independent States, United Kingdom, United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand while the other portion is dedicated to a collection of Dolls from India, the Middle East, Asian Countries and Africa. Other than these collections, there is a special display of 150 types of Dolls dressed up in authentic Indian Costumes made within the Museum workshop itself. These special Dolls are sold to avid doll collectors and other museums of the country and abroad or exchanged as gifts for other Dolls from Foreign Countries.
All these Dolls, their costumes, physical attributes and jewellery displayed in the Shankar's Doll Museum are meticulously researched and then handmade. This idea was inspired when Shankar received a Doll dressed in the traditional Hungarian Costume gifted by the Ambassador of Hungary during the early 1950s to be presented as the first prize during the International Children's Painting Competition; however, he admired this Doll so much that he took special permission from the Hungarian Ambassador to retain this Doll for himself. Since then, Shankar has been collecting such Dolls from different countries during his visits while travelling along with his Journalist friends and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. He replicated this idea in his Indian Dolls for which he has received numerous accolades including the first prize of the prestigious Golden Peacock Feather Award held in Cracow in Poland at the Dolls Biennale in 1980.
Shankar collected over 500 Dolls over the years and decided to showcase them along with the children's paintings and hence, he began organising frequent exhibitions and this caused slight damages to the Dolls which Shankar could not avoid. At one exhibition, Smt. Indira Gandhi and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru voiced their opinion after viewing the state of these Dolls and suggested that a permanent place be created for them. A portion of the First Floor of the CBT Building was chosen to be established as a Doll Museum. After its completion in 1965 with about 1,000 Dolls on display, it was inaugurated by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the former President of India. During the period between 1965 and 1987, over 5,000 Dolls were added to the current collection and today, there are a total of 6,500 Dolls from 85 different Countries and thus converting this museum into a place of International Standards. It has welcomed many dignitaries from across the globe like the Secretary General of United Nations, Queen of Greece, Queen of Thailand, Madame Tito of Yugoslavia, the sister of the Shah of Iran and ladies of the President of Indonesia and Mexico, Poland and South Korea's Prime Ministers and many others.
Shankar's Doll Museum offers all visitors a stunning display of Handcrafted Costume Dolls seen in the traditional Indian attire, Folk and Tribal Dance Costumes, Queen's Collection from United Kingdom, Hungarian Maypole Dance, Japan's Boys and Girls Festival costume, Spain's Flamenco Dancer's costume, Thailand's Women Orchestra and Sri Lanka's Kandi Pehara costumes. This Museum is opened from 1000 hours to 1800 hours (no lunch breaks) with a small entry fee of INR 15.00 per Adult, INR 5.00 per child while a group of 20 children need to pay only INR 3.00 per head. Ensure that all tickets are purchased before 1730 hours as the ticket counter shuts down by then. The Museum is opened from Tuesdays to Sundays as it remains closed on all Mondays and three selected Gazetted Holidays.