Apart from the amazing people, incredible beaches, magnificent temples and other architectural wonders, there are a number of museums in Chennai that you can visit when you plan a trip here. Most of the museums house the treasures of the past that date back to the era of the Pallava Dynasty up till the British Rule.
To enthral and engage the millennials, Chennai also has museums encompassing innovative art and vintage articles which not only appeal to the youngsters but also help them understand the modern technology used in them.
Let us take a look at the 8 famous museums in Chennai below.
8 Best Museums in Chennai
1. Vintage Camera Museum
If photography is your hobby or passion, this place is for you. Located on the East Coast Road area, Vintage Camera Museum is a treasure trove of more than 1500 cameras on display that have been collected since 1997. An interesting fact about this museum, which makes it one of the best museums in Chennai, is that Dr AV Arun (a dentist by profession) was the one who started this museum.
The museum showcases nostalgic images of Chennai from the 1960s & 70s, and the collection of cameras range from the Meagher film camera of 1870 (the oldest model in the museum) to the modern-day high-end digital cameras. The museum also accepts camera donations from visitors to add to its impeccable collection, so in case you wish to spare one, this is the best place to do so.
- Timings of Vintage Camera Museum: 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM
- Entry fee: Rs 100
- Location: East Coast Road, Kovalam
2. Government Museum
The Government Museum is a huge repository of ancient antiquities and artefacts of Tamil Nadu displayed across 46 galleries. It is located close to Egmore Railway Station and is a great place for anyone who wants to spend time learning about Tamil Nadu’s history and rich heritage. One of the largest and famous museums in Chennai, the Government Museum has a total of 6 buildings with different galleries dedicated to the pre-historic period, anthropology, archaeology, and numismatics sections. It also has a magnificent art section and a children’s museum for kids.
The pre-historic gallery houses armours, ornaments, coins, pottery, and also depicts the lifestyle of human beings of the Paleolithic era. The art section boasts of masterpieces painted by Raja Ravi Varma and also has numerous traditional, Tanjore, Mughal & Rajput paintings. The kids’ section has a science gallery, dolls gallery etc to keep them engaged.
- Timings of The Government Museum: 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM
- Entry fee: Indians – Adults – Rs 15, children – 10; Foreigners – Adults – Rs 250, Children – 125; Still camera – Rs 200, video camera – Rs 500;
- Location: Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai
If you are intrigued by the South Indian culture and lifestyle and wish to witness it up close, Dakshina Chitra museum is the place to go. One of the best museums in Chennai, it is considered an excellent living-history museum in Tamil Nadu. Structured in the form of a heritage village, Dakshina Chitra depicts the art, architecture, culture and dwelling style of the people in South India.
For instance, to depict how Brahmins lived in the olden days, the museum has built Agraharas inside its premises. In the artefacts collections, the museum preserves textiles used, utensils and daily use articles of the past, murals that were hung in the houses and woven mats used for sitting and sleeping in the olden days. For housing all these, Dakshina Chitra is also considered one of the famous art museums in Chennai as well.
- Timings of Dakshina Chitra Museum: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
- Entry fee: Adults – Rs 100, Students – Rs 50, children – Rs 30
- Location: East Coast Road, Muttukadu, Chennai
4. Fort St George Museum
Fort St George Museum houses more than 3000 antique articles from various stages of the modern historical era and is undoubtedly one of the best museums in Chennai to visit. Segmented into 3 floors with a total of 10 galleries, Fort St George Museum showcases several indigenous weapons, varied collection of armours, collection of shells fired during World Wars I & II, uniforms of the British Army and more.
The museum also has a wealthy collection of Porcelain articles which includes tableware and other articles used in the age of the East India Company. A separate Portrait Gallery in the museum is dedicated to lifesize portraits of Queen Victoria, Robert Clive and other eminent British officials. Fort St George is the best museum in Chennai to visit if you wish to get a glimpse of the British Raj in India.
- Timings of Fort St George Museum, Chennai: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
- Entry fee: Indians – Rs 5, Foreigners- Rs 100;
- Location: Beach Road, Chennai
Must Read: 23 Things Chennai Is Famous For
5. Regional Railway Museum
Akin to the Rail Museum, among other museums in Delhi, Chennai also has a Regional Railway Museum showcasing the heritage and evolution of Indian Railways. An amazing site to visit for all travellers touring Chennai with family or friends, the Regional Railway Museum enthrals one and all with its varied collection of steam engines operated during the British era.
Apart from these, the museum also has live models of meter gauge electric trains, Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, Nilgiris Mountain Railways and various other engines that were used before the modern-day engines came into operation. If you are a rail-fan and love to learn about Indian Railways, this is one of the best museums in Chennai to visit. The museum also offers a joy ride in a toy train to kids and also has images of high-speed trains from various countries in the world.
- Timings of Regional Rail Museum: 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM
- Entry fee: Rs 30 per person;
- Location: ICF Furnishing Road, Anna Nagar, Chennai
6. Birla Planetarium
Birla Planetarium, an integral part of the Periyar Science and Technology Centre, tops the charts in the list of museums in Chennai. It consists of an awe-inspiring miniature model of the universe to draw the attention of all the science-enthusiasts and kids who are curious to learn about space and beyond.
The museum also has recreated models of the celestial actions with multimedia effects to engage the kids and make them aware of various astronomical phenomena. Along with this, the planetarium has an aluminium dome that displays more than 35 planetary activities that kids can watch and learn. This museum is a great place to spend a day with your friends or family learning about our fascinating universe.
- Timings of the shows in Birla Planetarium: 10:15 AM – 1:15 PM & 4:35 PM (English); 12:00 PM & 2:30 PM (Tamil);
- Entry fee: Anyone above 12- Rs 30, Children below 12 – Rs 15;
- Location: Gandhi Mandapam Road, Chennai
Must Read: 27 Sought Out Places to Hangout in Chennai
7. Vivekanandar Illam
Vivekanandar Illam or the House of Vivekananda is the abode where Swami Vivekananda had stayed in 1897 when he visited Chennai. Earlier called the Ice House, this magnificent architecture stands majestically facing the Marina Beach and was renamed Vivekanandar Illam only in 1963. You can learn about the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda by visiting this incredible museum and witness the various phases of his life depicted through paintings and 2D hologram. One of the best museums in Chennai, a trip to Vivekanandar Illam gives you a chance to learn a lot about this holy saint who put India on the global map.
- Timings of Vivekanandar Illam: 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM; 3:00 PM to 7:15 PM; (Closed on Mondays)
- Entry fee: Adults – Rs 20; Children – Rs 10
- Location: Marina Beach, Kamrajar Road, Chennai
Must Read: 7 Inspiring Historical Places in Chennai
8. Click Art Museum
Ever dreamt of posing with a chimpanzee, fighting with Bruce Lee or shrinking to miniature ant-like images? Well, all that is possible in the mind-blowing Click Art Museum, a 3D art museum in Chennai that is located in the VGP Snow Kingdom. Here you can explore the fun side of you by creating amazing 3D art images. There are 24 art displays in the museum and each of them comes to life when you enter the frame that is strategically marked against every art display.
You can fly like a Superman or even cut yourself in half, fight a bull or shrink yourself to a miniature size too! The Click Art Museum caters to all age groups, kids or adults, which is why it is one of the best museums in Chennai. Spend a fun-filled day in this museum with your friends and family and enjoy the magic that each art display unfolds.
- Timings of Click Art Museum: 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
- Entry fee: Adults – Rs 150; Children – Rs 100
- Location: VGP Snow Kingdom, Injambakkam, Chennai
Here’s our list of the 8 best museums in Chennai that are a must-visit for anyone who loves to explore the history and heritage of Tamil Nadu. Have you visited them before? If yes, let us know your experience in the comments below.