Shankar's International Dolls Museum
Set up by the renowned political cartoonist K. Shankar Pillai (1902-1989), Shankar's International Dolls Museum has the largest collection of costume dolls anywhere in the world.
Housed in the building of the Children's Book Trust on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi, the Museum occupies a floor area of 5184.5 sq. feet – a portion of the first floor. A separate entrance with a stately winding staircase leads up to a foyer. Inside, the Museum is divided into two equal halves. The two sections have over 160 glass cases, 1000 ft. long, mounted on the walls. One section has exhibits from European countries, the U.K., and the U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, Commonwealth of Independent States and the other from Asian countries, the Middle East, Africa and India. There are also special displays besides a representative collection from the over 150 kinds of authentic Indian costume dolls made at the Dolls Designing Centre and Workshop (started in 1966) attached to the Museum.
The Museum's collection of the costume dolls was inspired by a gift of a single doll, which Shankar received from the Hungarian Ambassador in the early fifties, to be given away as a prize in the Shankar's International Children's Competition.
Today, it boasts of 6,500 exhibits from almost eighty-five countries, giving it a truly international character. The Museum is listed in the itinerary of all visitors to Delhi. Some of the important dignitaries who have visited the Museum and recorded their appreciation are: President U. Thant of Burma (now Myanmar), Madame Tito of Yugoslavia, Queen Frederika of Greece, the Queen of Thailand, the sister of Shah of Iran, the wives of the President of Mexico and Indonesia, of the Prime Ministers of Poland and South Korea and the UN Secretary General and cultural delegations from many countries.