On the eve of the birth centenary of Professor Mahalanobis in 1993, the Institute decided to set up a museum and archives in his memory and attempt was made to trace the historical documents from the Development Office in Amrapali (originally named by Rabindranath Tagore) which was the formerly the personal office of Professor Mahalanobis. A considerable number of private and official documents of Professor Mahalanobis were kept in the custody of Mrs. Nirmal Kumari Mahalanobis, which remained closed following her death in 1981. In 1991 the collection was transferred to the custody of the Institute through the executor of the will of the estate of Mrs. Mahalanobis. This old ‘Museum’ collection formed the nucleus of the present museum with the archives reinforced by the files, records and photographs from the Development Office and the personal collections of Prasanta Chandra and Nirmal Kumari Mahalanobis. Amrapali, the former residence of Professor Mahalanobis at the Institute’s campus, was henceforth turned into the museum and archives.
Presently the museum has five galleries, each depicting distinct phase of life and work of Professor Mahalanobis, with the display of 752 exhibits through 91 panels. The study room and the residential portions of Professor and Mrs. Mahalanobis as well as the chatal, where he usually received his eminent guests, also formed the part of the museum for their historic value. The museum has in its collection a large number of artifacts related to Professor Mahalanobis, such as his honours and degrees, medals, dresses and some of his personal belongings. The small seminar room in the ground floor of western side of the building holds seminars, talks, film shows and other small functions.
The museum and archives is located in the campus of the Indian Statistical Institute on 203 Barrackpur Trunk Road, Kolkata 700108. Entrance to the museum is from the southern side of the building facing the view of the pond.
Amrapali, the residence of Prasanta Chandra and Nirmal Kumari Mahalanobis, situated in the natural and serene settings at the northern outskirts of the city in the Baranagar area, was named by Rabindranath Tagore, after a sacred Buddhist sanctuary. Initially it was an old garden house, which was purchased by Prasanta Chandra and then remodeled, much in the style of the Udayana building at Santiniketan. The building was donated to the Brahmo Samaj by Prasanta Chandra. During his birth centenary the Institute purchased the building from the Brahmo Samaj and set up the museum and archives in his memory.
On the ground floor, through the five galleries different phases of the life and work of Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, have been depicted mostly through the photographic display distributed in different panels, each of them having a thematic representation.
On the first floor the chatal (the open lounge), the study room and the residential rooms of Professor and Mrs. Mahalanobis are reinstated in order to give an authentic impression of the period.
The archives keep in its custody all the official and personal documents, files, correspondence, scientific and literary papers, photographs, news paper cuttings, diaries, and manuscripts of Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis and Nirmal Kumari Mahalanobis. Audio-visual materials like sound recordings and film footage also form the part of the archival collection.