The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum opened to the public at its present site in Byculla in 1872 as the erstwhile Victoria & Albert Museum, Bombay. It is Mumbai’s oldest museum and the third oldest in the country. The Museum building is one of the most important historical sites of the city. It was the first colonial building to be built for the specific purpose of housing a museum. Bombay, then the richest mercantile town in India, was considered the Gateway to the East or Urbs Prima in India, the first city of India, and had the honour of exhibiting to the world the country’s rich cultural traditions.
A little more than a hundred years later, on November 1, 1975, the Museum was renamed the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in honour of the man whose vision and dedication enabled its establishment. Dr. Bhau Daji Lad was the first Indian Sheriff of Mumbai, a philanthropist, historian, physician, surgeon and secretary of the Museum Committee when it was first instituted.
By 1997, the Museum had fallen into a state of disrepair. The derelict condition in which this extraordinary 19th century building lay resulted in INTACH’s effort to restore the building and objects. A tripartite agreement was signed between the MCGM, the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation and INTACH in February 2003 and the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum Trust was established for the revitalisation and management of the Museum. After five years of intensive restoration by INTACH, the Museum was reopened to the public on January 4, 2008. The Museum was inaugurated by Mr. Uddhav Thackeray and attended by several city leaders and citizens.