State Bank Museum and Art Gallery
State Bank Museum and Art Gallery are Pakistan’s first-ever Monetary Museum. This landmark is a museum and an institution that aims to educate and inform the general public about Pakistan’s diverse banking and economic history, along with the roles and origin of the State Bank of Pakistan. The primary purpose of establishing this Economic and Central Banking Museum is to preserve the cultural heritage of Pakistan. It provides an opportunity for the younger generation to learn about monetary policy, the banking system, and its evolution over time, stimulates artistic talent development in the country, and provokes a custom of cultural exchange with other museums worldwide.
The establishment of this monetary Museum is appreciated at the national level and has admirable remarks from international researchers and visitors. State Bank Museum & Art Gallery is a member of Pakistan’s first ICOM (International Council of Museums).
History of State Bank Museum and Art Gallery
Standing on Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar Road in Karachi city of Pakistan, State Bank Museum & Art Gallery is one of the best-kept museums in Pakistan. The old name of the State Bank Museum and Art Gallery was Imperial Bank of India, established in 1920 during British rule. The owners of the bank decided to convert the bank into a museum. Dr. Ishrat Hussain, former Governor of State Bank, founded State Bank Museum Karachi in 2004. The Museum’s conservation and acquisition of collections started in 2004 and ended in 2006. Dr. Ishrat Hussain inaugurated the State Bank of Pakistan Museum & Art Gallery on 1st July 2011. Since then, the State Bank of Pakistan Museum & Art Gallery has been under the responsibility of Dr. Asma Ibrahim, the Archaeologist, Director, and Museulogist of the State Bank.
The Museum’s vast and spacious building showcases the British era’s architectural design. The structure of the exterior of the building depicts the Greco-roman style, made of a rare red sandstone with large pillars maintaining the network. The inside of the Museum is clean and airy, with Burmese Teak cases, windows, and doors providing an antique and sophisticated look to the Museum.
What are the Attractions at State Bank Museum and Art Gallery?
State Bank Museum Karachi features an appealing collection of artifacts to gather the attention of its visitors. Showcasing the history of the State Bank of Pakistan, the Museum features seven galleries: stamp gallery, currency gallery, coin gallery consisting of coins and banknotes of old times, Art gallery, Governors’ Gallery, and collection of Sadequain paintings. Let us get into the details of these iconic galleries.
Ground Floor Galleries
The State Bank Museum Karachi ground floor galleries feature an impressive collection of monetary artifacts from Pakistan’s history.
Coin Gallery I
This gallery features the ancient coins of Pre Islamic period. Each Coin shows symbols and images of great importance to the people of old times. There are various sorts of Coins displayed in this gallery, including:
- Punch Marked coins of 6th Century B.C.
- Coins of Shahi Kings of Kabul and Gandhara
- Rare bar copper & antique silver coins.
- Indo Greeks coins, including a rare bronze coin of Alexander the Great.
- Unique Seals were used as coins by the people of Indus valley.
- Numerous other unique coins of Indo Scythians, Indo Parthians, Guptas, Kushans, Indo Sassanians & Hindu Shahi dynasties.
Coin Gallery II
This gallery features the ancient coins of the Islamic period, including some rare Mughal coins, British Indian coins, and Pakistani coins. There is a display of coin-making methods in the Pakistan mint with an original presentation of coin-making machines and tools. The minting of a coin was considered a symbol of the King’s increasing prestige and power. Mughals replaced the technique of designing faces on coins. Instead, they preferred to do calligraphy on coins. This gallery showcases a documentary that explains the whole process of coin minting.
The currency gallery showcases the complete collection of Pakistani banknotes from the establishment of Pakistan in 1947 till the present time. It features a great Collection of banknotes providing Pakistan’s historical evolution of currency notes. The objects and images designed on the currency notes depict the culture and history of a country and its nation. A British man named Thomas Dilarow developed the earliest currency of Pakistan. In 1957, Museum published the currency featuring the face of Quaid-e-Azam. The collection includes:
- Pakistan and India used the common currency after the partition in 1947. That common currency is on display in the coin gallery.
- Bengali and Pakistani banknotes
- Old historical banknotes
- Polymer banknotes
- Modern banknotes
The Governors Gallery features photographs and a brief introduction of every Governor of the State Bank Museum since its establishment. Profiles and the personal belongings of governors are also carefully preserved. The first Governor’s office, Mr. Zahid Hussain, is decorated with decent furniture.
This gallery features a vast collection of stamps from the establishment of Pakistan in 1947 until now. On 19th July 1948, the first postage stamp of Pakistan was issued with a leafy pattern and the motif of star and crescent. The well-known Pakistani artist A.R. Chaugtai designed this stamp and got it approved by Quaid-e-Azam. State Bank Museum Karachi established three other Stamps to celebrate Pakistan’s first anniversary in 1948. The designs on these stamps included the First Constituent Assembly Building, the Lahore Fort Gateway, and Karachi Airport Entrance.
All the stamps conveyed the slogan of” Pakistan Zindabad” ( Long Live Pakistan). It was a form of prayer for the newly established state.
The collection of stamp gallery includes:
- Over Print Postage Stamps
- Definitive Postage Stamps
- Commemorative Postage Stamps
- Thematic Postage Stamps
- Souvenir\Miniature Sheets
- Service Postage Stamps
State Bank Gallery
The purpose of this gallery is to provide some historical facts about the State Bank of Pakistan Museum & Art Gallery. It demonstrates the cause of a Bank’s development and the economy’s role in the country’s progress. State Bank Gallery displays notifications regarding the essential rules and regulations, issuance of new currency notes, issuance of Prize Bonds, Saving Certificates, establishing subsidiary offices, etc. The state bank inauguration speech and the pictures of the inauguration ceremony are on display.
Mezzanine Floor (Art Galleries)
The Mezzanine Floor houses two enchanting Art galleries, Sadequain Gallery and Contemporary Art Gallery.
The most appealing and attractive part of the State Bank Museum Karachi is the Sadequain Gallery featuring Sadequain’s four iconic paintings, collages of metal and wood, and personal notes of the legendary artist. The most eye-catching artwork among his paintings is the ‘Treasure of Time,’ a 65x10ft mural featuring 46 prominent personalities who left a remarkable impact on the history of the world, with Sadequain in the center. The artwork of other famous Pakistani artists like Ismail Gulgee and Zahoor ul-Akhlaq is also on display. The Museum’s most astonishing and mindblowing thing is a massive portrait of Quaid-e-Azam, designed beautifully by Abid Hussain Ansari. He used 5240 coins to create this mesmerizing portrait.
Contemporary Art Gallery
Contemporary Art Gallery is used to organize many events and exhibitions on a non-profit basis for young people to showcase their talent. Another masterpiece displayed in the Contemporary Art Gallery is a re-established monumental triptych by Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq, donated by philanthropist Ava Cawasjee.
The Museum’s mini theater has a proper seating arrangement for the audience. State Bank Museum Karachi uses this theater to host and organize other Dramas, plays, and cultural performances to promote the cultural values of Pakistan.
The vintage Souvenir Shop displays replicas of the original stamps, currency, coins, antiquities, pottery, calligraphic specimens, jewelry, Sadequain paintings, and some wares items. The purpose of this Souvenir Shop is to encourage local craftsmanship and promote the cultural heritage of Pakistan.
The State Bank of Pakistan Museum & Art Gallery offers guided tours of the Museum, organized by trained gallery officers. This tour is free, but you have to book the tour in advance.
State Bank Museum Karachi Entry Ticket & Timings
The excellent news for the local and foreign visitors is that entry to the Museum is entirely free to accommodate the interests of the visitors. State Bank Museum & Art Gallery is open to visitors from Monday to Friday. The visiting hours are from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
Location of State Bank Museum Karachi
This prestigious landmark is located on Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar Road, Lalazar, Karachi, Karachi City, in the Sindh province of Pakistan.
Who built State Bank Museum & Art Gallery?
State Bank Museum & Art Gallery was built in 1920 by the British government as Imperial Bank of India. Later the Pakistani government expanded the Museum. The current director of the Museum is Dr. Asma Ibrahim.
When was State Bank Museum Established?
State Bank Museum Karachi was established in 2004 after a long effort of hunting for the artifacts to be displayed inside.
The Museum’s effort to create an engaging and informative environment by displaying a vast collection of currency, art, and historical artifacts is commendable. The mesmerizing paintings combined with the magnificent colonial architecture of the building provide the most unique and worthwhile museum experiences in the city of Karachi.