The museums of Kashmir showcase the rich historical past of the valley. The main museum of Kashmir is the Sri Pratap Singh Museum. Once the summer palace of the Maharajas of Kashmir, it was later converted into a museum in the year 1898. A major portion of the museum collection, at that point of time, consisted of objects from the Jammu and Kashmir toshkhana. The toshkhana collection of this museum of Kashmir, India includes shawls, paintings, arms and armory, silver images, copper and jade ornaments, copper and brass utensils and Ladkhi handicrafts.
Sri Pratap Singh Museum of Kashmir displays an assortment of more than
200 textiles. The renowned jamawar, spreads, gabbas and rumals, dating
back to the Afghan period, from 1752 to 1947, form a part of the
textiles collection. One of the most brilliant pieces of the museum
collection is a map of Srinagar in needlework, prepared during reign of
maharaja Ranjil Singh. Later, it was presented as gift to the Prince of
Wales when he visited Kashmir. In the later years, this map was
auctioned in England from where it found its way back to Kashmir. The
map depicts topography of Srinagar as it was at that point of time,
showing the important buildings, mosques, temples, gardens, rivers,
bridges and lakes.
The museum also has a rich collection of archaeological stuff excavated
from the Pandrethan, Parashpura and Avantipura sites. The collection of
the excavated items includes pottery, terracotta tiles, metal artifacts
and stone objects. These objects date back to different time periods,
ranging from the 2nd to 12th century AD. Also on display are life-size
statues of the Lord Buddha, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma, in
a chronological order. Sharda, Persian and Arabic stone inscriptions,
2nd century terracotta tiles from Hoinar (Pahalgam) and 3rd century
Harwan tiles are the other items on display inside the museum.