The Origin of the Museum and Archaeology Unit goes back to two collections donated to the Delhi University, the larger one being that of the (late) Lala Manickchand Backliwal and the smaller collection being that of Shrimati Sharan Rani Backliwal. The collections were received by the University of Delhi on 29th September 1976 (the relevant Executive Council items are: E.C. (8) – 29.9.76, items a and b). The university entrusted the responsibility of keeping these objects to the Department of History. By 1979, due to the Joint efforts of the university and the History Department, a modest grant had been obtained from UGC for setting up an ‘Archaeology and Museum Unit’. The recurring items covered by the grant allowed the appointment of a museum curator and a museum attendant as also annual archaeological exploration. The non-recurring items covered documentation, preservation of objects, furniture and showcases. Subsequently, the university allotted space for the museum in the new Arts Faculty building and thus, our department museum was born.
The nucleus of the museum is formed by the donated collections, only a part of which are displayed. In fact, due to the shortage of space, we have been able to display only 35% of collections. The collections, incidentally, are priceless and include illustrated manuscripts, more than one hundred miniature paintings – some of which are of Mughal vintage, paintings on wood and cloth, thangkas, Chamba rumal, ivory paintings, ivory playing cards, ivory figures, Gandhara stuccos, stone sculpture, terracottas bronzes, firmans, horoscopes, unillustrated manuscripts and qitas. Around this collection, field trips to facilitate research in archaeology in the Department of History have added a new dimension and the museum today also baosts of a large collection of stone tools, pottery and miscellaneous antiquities from various regions including Kangra, West Bengal and Bihar.
The Department has a Library named after Late Professor Partha Sarathi Gupta Library which is being managed with the help of the Delhi University Library System. This Library has grown out of SAP,CAS and University subsidy. We have 20000 volumes as on date. Full sets of important Journals like IESHR, Contributions to Indian Sociology, Studies in History, Medieval History Journal, Man and Environment, PIHC, Puratattava, Studies in Indian place names, Yavanika, Ancient Pakistan and Pratnasamiksha. The Departmental Library has the complete set of the Journal Representations (University of California), a cross disciplinary journal of Social and Cultural History and Antiquity, a Journal on World Archaeology.