Bagan Archaeological Museum was opened on 17th April 1998 in the world renowned ancient city Bagan of Myanmar.
The first archaeology museum in the true sense of the term was built near the northern covered cause way of Ananda Temple in 1904. A small oblong one storey brick building of 60 feet by 30 feet in which some ancient stone inscriptions. Buddha images and other cultural objects collected from the Bagan area were haphazardly displayed. After some years as a large number of new art objects and antiquities were added, the museum looked like an overstocked storehouse.
In 1976 the site to the south of Gawdawt Palin Pagoda was selected and designated for Archaeological Museum Compound in which an octagonal shaped museum building was constructed. In it were displayed very rare and fragile artifacts excavated from ruined Bagan monuments. Three big oblong sheds were built near it as annexure under which stone inscriptions and stone statues of the Bagan Period were displayed. It was called Archaeological Site Museum Bagan and was officially opened in October 1979.
What to see
There are many display rooms. On the ground floor there is a fully decorated and air-con hall large enough to hold international conference, symposium, seminar or meeting. On this floor are the display room for objects of visual arts of the Bagan Period such as terra cotta, stucco works, wood carvings, stone sculptures, metal works, lacquer works, etc…
The showroom exhibiting models of 55 different coiffeurs used by fashionable court ladies of the Bagan Period. The display room in which originals, replicas and ink copies of Bagan stone inscriptions and other forms of epigraphy. The gallery where paintings by famous Myanmar artists of to-day depicting the social life and military might of ancient Bagan as well as copies of frescoes on walls and ceilings of ancient temples. And the display room in which models of Bagan monuments of architectural and artistic wonder.
Going up to the second floor by grand marble floored stairways, we reach the display rooms on religious themes. Here we find that exhibits are Buddha statues providing us some knowledge of Buddhist iconography. In the room of Buddhist Art are displayed objects of all visual Buddhist arts. Viewers of these objects may well appreciate the depth and extent of Buddhist influence upon Myanmar culture. Here on the second floor is another art gallery but it specialises in religious themes. Paintings by artists of to-day and murals by master painters of Bagan’s time on display in the gallery all represent Bagan pagodas and monuments or depict Buddhist stories – jatakas.
Next above the second floor is the flat roof of the whole building, from where visitors and tourists can enjoy a panoramic view of the entire “pagoda land” of Bagan and patiently wait for the right moment to watch the “large orange coloured globe” gradually sinking behind the Tantkyi Taung hill range on the west bank of the mighty Ayeyawaddy River.
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