About the Kerala Museum

Pioneers in arts & heritage education. South India's first ever privately created modern Indian art collection built as a resource for public.

The Dream of a Museum

The Kerala Museum is a vibrant beacon of the arts in Kochi. Set up in 1987, it is the brainchild of R Madhavan Nayar who, even then, recognised the need for a cultural institution which could provide experiential learning in history, the fine arts and performing arts in the city. He established a museum that concentrated on three sections: a history museum with dioramas narrating the complex history of Kerala, a visual art collection with key works by artists from the late 19th century to the late 20th century and a collection of dolls from around the country.

Madhavan Nayar’s vision has been carried forward over four decades and the museum has hosted more than half a million visitors; it has also ignited the minds of school children from over 5000 schools from across the country. Amongst its other achievements, the museum’s collections have been digitised for free public access in partnership with Google Arts & Culture; and even during the pandemic, the museum remained active and presented a variety of online programmes.

38 Years

in arts and heritage education

300 +


Over 5000

schools from all over India


learning events per year

NAYAR Foundation

The Madhavan Nayar Foundation is a non-governmental Public Charitable Trust established in 1984. The Foundation’s focus is arts and culture education and its activities are governed by the Board of Trustees of MNF, comprising experts in the field of museums, arts, history, urban design, architecture, developmental studies, environment, conservation and business.

P Narayan

Managing Trustee

P Narayan is at the helm of an international shipping business, Chakiat Agencies in Cochin. He has served as President of Cochin Steamer Agents Association, Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

R K Nayar


Shri Ram Kumar Nayar is an engineer by profession. He qualified from IIT Madras (B Tech) in 1968, followed by an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad in 1970. Retired in 2009 as Managing Director of a Public Ltd Company.

Dr. Venu Vasudevan


Dr. Venu Vasudevan, a key figure in Indian administration since 1990, transformed Kerala’s tourism sector, spearheading initiatives like ‘Responsible Tourism’ and founding the successful Kerala Travel Mart. An esteemed author, his book on tourism is a definitive text, and in his current role as Additional Chief Secretary for the Government of Kerala, he oversees departments including Higher Education, Environment, and Museums.

K T Ravindran


K.T. Ravindran is an Urban Designer, Chairman of the Architectural Heritage Advisory Committee of INTACH, Trustee of the Indian Heritage Cities Network Foundation and was Member of the Advisory Board for the United Nations Capital Master Plan, New York. He was Dean and Senior Academic Advisor, RICS School of Built Environment, former Chairman of Delhi Urban Art Commission and was the Founding President of the Institute of Urban Designers India.

Mathew Cherian


Mathew Cherian, a civil engineering graduate from BITS Pilani, is the CEO of HelpAge India for the past 16 years. He holds key roles in national and international bodies, serving as an Amicus Curiae to the Supreme Court on elder rights, and being a member of the Global Future Council of the World Economic Forum. Cherian has a rich background in rural development and has previously directed Oxfam India.

Ramani Balashankar


Smt. Ramani Balashankar is a post-graduate in nutrition science, and also an exponent of Bharatnatyam dance and Carnatic Music.


Arundhaty Nayar


Arundhaty Nayar is an architect by profession, partner at design firm Sen & Nayar in Cochin since 1979. She established the furniture brand Better By Design, creating bespoke hand-crafted wooden furniture for homes.

Tarshish Thekaekara


Scientist at the NCBS in Bangalore, Dr. Thekaekara is a bio-diversity and conservation expert working across the wider theme of habitats and co-existence.


Prof. Naman Ahuja

Naman Ahuja, an art historian in New Delhi, serves as a Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, specializing in Indian iconography, sculpture, temple architecture, and Sultanate-period painting. Additionally, he is the Editor of Marg, India’s prominent quarterly magazine on the arts, and has curated exhibitions such as “The Body in Indian Art and Thought” while publishing notable works like “The Making of the Modern Indian Artist Craftsman: Devi Prasad.”

Suman Gopinath

Suman Gopinath, an independent curator, serves as the Senior Programme Officer for the Museums & Archives Programme at India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) in Bangalore. With a background in Fine Arts Administration and Curating from Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, she co-founded CoLab Art & Architecture, collaborating on contemporary Indian work in the global context.


The Pioneer- R Madhavan Nayar

A visionary, a mentor and a devoted patron of the arts: R. Madhavan Nayar possessed riveting qualities that made him a unique figure, weaving a variety of interests in his life together with a vision for the city of Kochi. Unique traits of his persona like empathy, philanthropy, a spirit of curiosity and enterprise led him to create centres of learning, interaction, and healing in the attempt to give back to society. From the dream to build a museum, to the world’s top-ranked centre for epilepsy care, he gave back to society in more ways than one.

R Madhavan Nayar
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