Lonely Planet review
Housed across several British-built buildings known as the Pantheon Complex, this excellent museum is Chennai’s best. You may find some sections temporarily closed as renovation meanders on.
The main building (No 1) has a respectable archaeological section representing all the major South Indian periods from 2nd-century-BC Buddhist sculptures to 16th-century Vijayanagar work. Also here is a zoology section with a motley collection of skeletons and stuffed animals.
The big highlight is building 3, the Bronze Gallery , with a superb, beautifully presented collection of South Indian bronzes from the 7th-century Pallava era through to modern times, with English-language explanatory material. It was from the 9th to 11th centuries, in the Chola period, that bronze sculpture peaked. Among the impressive pieces are many of Shiva as Nataraja, the cosmic dancer, and a superb Chola bronze of Ardhanarishvara, the androgynous incarnation of Shiva and Parvati.
The same ticket gets you into the National Art Gallery , Contemporary Art Gallery and Children’s Museum , in the same complex.