The formation of Orissa State museum, now Odhisa State Museum goes back to the year 1932, when notable historian Prof. N.C. Banerjee and Prof. Ghanshyam Das took initiative of its establishment from a small collection of archaeological artefacts. However, over the years the museum has grown tremendously and has successfully transformed itself into a multipurpose museum. In comparison to its original collection i.e. the archaeological artefacts, the museum has extended itself in acquiring objects of different types and materials such as wood, metal, textiles, terracotta, manuscripts, numismatics etc. Separate divisions have been built to look after the types of collection.
The foundation stone of the present building of the museum was laid by Dr. Rajendra Prasad in the year 1957 on 29th December.
There are 11 sections in the museum which are classified as follows:
Archaeology: In this section one can see the various marvels of stone sculptures from the Buddhist, Jaina, Saiva, Vaisnava and Sakta periods. Some examples are: fragmets from the Ashokan Pillar, Jaina tirthankaras, Goddess Manjushree, Krishnavishnu, Chamunda etc.
Epigraphy and Numismatics: In this section copper plate grants, pre-mauryan and mauryan period punch marked coins, kushana and gupta period coins, and various coins from the mughal period are on display.
Arms and Armours: Here, weapons from ancient and modern period are on display. One can see the swords, guns, shields etc used during wars. also it provides an insight to the alloy technique used in the metallurgy of ancient weaponry. A model of the Barabati fort laid at the entrance of the gallery stands as the centre of attraction.
Mining and Geology: This gallery displays fine examples of different types of stones such as sandstone, semi precious stones, khondolites etc. On display is also the different types of minerals such as iron-ore, chromites, lead and bauxite etc.
Natural History: This gallery provides a glimpse of the rich and diverse flora and fauna of Odhisa. Dioramas are created in the showcases where animals such as the Royal Bengal tiger, Leopard, Bison, Nilgai, Black buck Pangolin and different types of birds are shown in their artificially created habitat.
Art and Craft: In this gallery one can find some excellent artistic handcrafted objects built of materials such as bronze, brass, copper etc. Some techniques such as dhokra, silver filigree etc are also the prime attraction of the gallery.
Patachitra Painting: Some examples displayed in this gallery are Ravananugraha, tadakabadha, Navagunjara, Buddha Charita, Jagannath Triad, Kandarpahashti etc.
Anthropology: The anthropology gallery takes the visitors into the tribal’s lifestyle and culture. various musical instruments are on display in this gallery. Jewellary worn by the tribals are also shown here.
Palm Leaf Manuscripts : More than 37000palmleaf manuscripts in this section comprise twenty seven subjects like veda, tantra, purana, darsana, lexicon, silpa sastra, grammer, mathematics and ayurveda etc. Manuscripts on palmleaf, bamboo leaf, hand made paper, ivory, bhurja bark and kumbhi bark etc and manuscripts in various shapes like garland, fan, fish, sword, rat and parrot alongwith different types of stylus, illustrated manuscripts of coloured and monochrome varieties are excellently presented in this section. Illustrated manuscripts of Gitagovinda, Ushavilasha, Amarusataka, Vidagdha Madhava etc and different styles of cover design of palmleaf manuscripts are of special interest. The oldest palmleaf manuscript in the collection is Abhinaba Gitagovinda of 15th c. A.D
Textiles: It is a small galley showing examples of ikat saris and other brocaded textiles.
Gifts and Decorative items: Various decorative items are on display here ranging from furnitures to other small valuables.