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The National Museum of Nepal (Rashtriya Museum) is a popular attraction of the capital city of Kathmandu. Being the largest museum of the country of Nepal, it plays an important role in nationwide archaeological works and development of museums. For the residents of Kathmandu, the monument serves to relive the battles fought on the grounds of Nepal. The main attractions are a collection of historical artworks (sculpture and paintings) and a historical display of weapons used in the wars in the 18-19th century. The museum has separate galleries dedicated to statues, paintings, murals, coins and weapons.[1] It has three buildings — Juddha Jayatia Khate Sala, Buddha Art Gallery and the main building which consists of natural historical section (collection of species of animals, butterflies and plants), cultural section and philatelic section. The museum has practical application in portraying and understanding the past and present traditions of the people of Nepal.


The National Museum of Nepal was established in 1928 by using an old building built in the early 19th century It was a residence built and used by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa. The building has a collection of bronze sculptures, paubha paintings and weapons including the sword gifted by the military leader of France Napoleon Bonaparte. The museum is then known as Chhauni Silkhana, literally meaning “arsenal museum”, was originally used to display firearms and weapons used in the war history of Nepal.

It was opened to the public in February 1939 by the Prime Minister of Nepal Juddha Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana. He allowed Nepalese to visit the museum charging very little and raised a building for an art museum and named it after himself Juddha Jatiya Kalashala. Until then only foreign scholars/dignitaries and invitees or guests of the Rana Prime Minister occasionally could have a glimpse of the collection.

The Art Gallery was opened in 2023 B.S. Chhauni Silkhana was renamed as Rashtriya Museum (literally “National Museum of Nepal”) in 1967 during the rule of His Majesty the King Mahendra.


The National Museum of Nepal is in the city of Kathmandu at a short distance from the stupa. The classical building of the museum is on the Western side of the river Vishnu against a hilly background. Entering the museum, on the left is the Art Gallery displaying statues, wood carvings and paintings. The building straight ahead is the Buddhist Art Gallery displaying Buddhist art objects while the building on the right is the Museum of Natural History.

Art Gallery

The Art Gallery exhibits metal works, wood and stone carvings. Prominent among the stone images is the one of Licchavi King Jayavarma of the 2nd century. This large statue found in Handigaon stands majestically after being restored by an Italian project. Four stolen sculptures — the head of the 12th century Veenadharini Saraswati from Pharping’s Kamalpokhari; the 9th century Buddha from Bhinchhe Bahal, Patan; the 14th century Surya from Panauti’s Triveni Ghat and the 10th century Garudasana Vishnu from Hyumat Tole, Kathmandu — received from a Los Angeles based art-collector, have remained artifacts of great interest. These objects are kept in the stonework section of the gallery.

Nritya Devi is a restored wooden sculpture of a dancing goddess of the 15th century stored in the wood-carving section. Intricate motifs, carved on teak, sal or rosewood, on mountable window frames give a sense of refinement in woodcarving. A series of paintings depicting Krishna’s miraculous deeds known as “Krishna Lila” are important artwork and covers a major part of the gallery in the painting section.

Historical Museum

The monumental building housing the Historical Museum was built by Bhimsen Thapa, prime minister of Nepal in the 18th century. Riches of Nepal’s biodiversity are exhibited in these chambers — mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, butterflies and insects. Pelt, horn or endo-skeletons of tiger, leopard, red panda, flying squirrel, rhinoceros, whale, colourful plumage of birds may be cited.

The Military section is a collection of weapons and artifacts from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal. The leather-canons (seized during the 1st Nepal-Tibet war in 1792 A.D), cane helmets (from the time of early rulers), antique, electric and Thomson submachine guns, Birgun (a gun supposedly invented by Gahendra Shamsher JB Rana) have remained valuable possessions. The gallery has a sword presented by Napoleon III and life-size paintings of tiger hunting as a royal sport, on display. Historical and modern paintings of Prime Ministers and kings of the Malla and Shah dynasties are exhibited along with showcases presenting Nepalese historical weapons.

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