It was one of Victorian London’s great attractions, showing the wonders of the Raj. The Guardian UK’s Jonathan Jones redicovers the forgotten India Museum, albiet in the pages of the English daily. This is a truly shocking story of a Museum which at one time was the center piece of London art scene, but has since vanished, in a manner befitting a Sherlock Holmes’ mystery.
The India Museum was no Borgesian conceit; it really did exist, physically and institutionally, a phantom collection of a phantom orient, an India buried in London, skulking on Leadenhall Street, forgotten in Whitehall, lost near the Thames, displayed in South Kensington. The museum is mentioned in old guidebooks to London; its reports are in the British Library; and an administrative history by Ray Desmond was published by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in 1982. So it must have existed – but the India Museum has so completely vanished from memory that it seems hard to credit there ever was such a place.