What better way to time travel than a trip to the neighbourhood museum. Here is our pick of museums that we think should get more attention and footfalls. They are not the biggest or the most iconic—you don’t need a list to go to the Louvre—but they offer a refreshing focus, shining a spotlight on aspects of history and culture that are sometimes as ignored as the museums themselves.

Argue with it, add to it, but make sure to go visit some of them.

Shankar’s International Dolls Museum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Shankar’s International Dolls Museum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

1. Shankar’s International Dolls Museum, Delhi: Named after one of India’s most illustrious political cartoonists, K. Shankar Pillai, the Dolls museum features the largest collection of costume dolls anywhere in the world. It seems Shankar’s love of dolls began when he received the gift of a Hungarian doll; as a journalist accompanying the then PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, he began to collect dolls on his trips abroad. The idea of a permanent exhibition came, it seems, from Indira Gandhi.

2. Ahsan Manzil, Dhaka: Once the palace-residence of Dhaka’s nawab family, then a French factory, then torn down by a tornado, and then finally restored into this elegant 19th century structure, built in the Mughal style, Ahsan Manzil is located on the banks of the Buriganga river and brings to life some of Nawabi history of yore.

Ghibli Museum. Wikimedia Commons
Ghibli Museum. Wikimedia Commons

3. Ghibli Museum, Tokyo: There are few names as instantly recognisable as Hayao Miyazaki when it comes to Japanese animated films. Named after the studio that Miyazaki was part of, this museum is dedicated to showcasing art and technique of animation. Miyazaki designed the museum himself.

Peranakan Museum. Reuters
Peranakan Museum. Reuters

4. Peranakan Museum, Singapore: Set inside a modest colonial structure built in 1912, this museum showcases the eclectic culture and heritage of Peranakans , who are the descendants of Chinese immigrants that settled by the Straits of Malacca, in British Malaya or Indonesia, in the 15thand 17th centuries. In Singapore, they were deemed to be the elites, and partial to the British. Peranakan food has a distinct flavour and popular across Singapore and Malaysia.

5. Camera Museum, George Town, Penang, Malaysia: Lost among George Town’s famous graffiti walls, this compact museum is a treasure trove for photography buffs interested in equipment. From vintage cameras like Rolleiflex and Kodak Brownie to the truly ancient Camera Obscura and the Daguerreotype, it is a true wonderland.

Calico Museum of Textiles
Calico Museum of Textiles

6. Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad, Gujarat: Arguably one of most respected textile museums in the world, it features a collection of Indian handicraft textiles spanning 500 years.

Bogyoke Aung San Museum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Bogyoke Aung San Museum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

7. Bogyoke Aung San Museum, Yangon, Myanmar: Converted from what used to be the childhood home of Aung San Suu Kyi, this two storeyed heritage house preserves such artefacts as her father Aung San’s personal library and the cot in which baby Aung San Suu Kyi slept as a two-year old.

8. Museum of Handcraft Paper, Yunnan province, China: Set in the midst of an open field at the foothills of the Gaoligong mountains in southwestern China, the museum aims to preserve the area’s long tradition of handcraft making.

Sulabh International Museum of Toilets. Photo: Getty Images
Sulabh International Museum of Toilets. Photo: Getty Images

9. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, New Delhi: How far back in time can one go with toilets? At this museum, water closets, chamber pots, bidets, urinals and commodes from 2500 years ago to more modern day amenities give you a sense of the progress—or should we say, motion?

Wayang Museum. Getty Images
Wayang Museum. Getty Images

10. Wayang Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia: Located on site of a 17th century Dutch Church in the Old City of Jakarta, this museum puts a spotlight on the long tradition of puppetry in south-east Asia—wayang means puppet or puppet show in Javanese.

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