There has been hype around the Bangabandhu Military Museum since its inauguration, and it has been attracting thousands of visitors beyond military enthusiasts. The museum is located at Bijoy Sarani, Dhaka. The museum's earliest roots date back to 1987, when it started its journey with the name 'Army Museum' at Mirpur Cantonment. It was shifted to its present location in 1999 and renamed 'Bangladesh Military Museum.' After extensive renovation, the museum was renamed 'Bangabandhu Military Museum' and eventually inaugurated by Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on January 6, 2022.
The museum authority mentioned that more than 400,000 people, including foreigners, have already visited the museum within six months of its inauguration. The first Director General of the museum, Brigadier General M M Moazzem Hossain, SUP (BAR), afwc, psc, invited more people to come and visit the museum saying, "It will not only present to you the history, legacy, and heritage of the nation's Armed Forces, but also build within you a sense of patriotism and pride in being a citizen of this country."
Bangabandhu Military Museum explores how Bangladesh Army, Navy, and Air Force have contributed enormously to the country's independence, protection, and progress following the clarion call made by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The museum tells sombre yet compelling stories against the backdrop of paramount historical events using its extensive and impressive collections, including armours, weapons, dioramas, uniforms, insignia, flags, artworks, and much more.
A kid is meticulously examining the Bijoy Turja. Photo - Author
From the notorious Enfield rifle associated with the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 to the huge anti-aircraft gun used in the Liberation War, the museum features over 1200 artefacts — predominantly from 1947 to 1971.
However, some relics in the museum date as far back as the ancient and medieval ages. Major Sazzad, Coordinating Officer of the museum, pointed out, "The oldest artefact in the museum collection is the bronze Buddhist statue from the Pala period that is displayed in the Victory Arena."
Major artefacts in each gallery
Around 50 years of accomplishments of the Bangladesh Armed Forces are thoroughly documented and explained in this museum through digital technology. The museum has separate galleries for the Bangladesh Army, Navy, and Air Force. In addition, the outdoor exhibits display some of the large and heavy wartime relics of the Liberation War and onward. Along with these, the Chattagram Hill Tracts Gallery and the United Nations Peacekeepers' Gallery exhibit the magnificent achievements of the Bangladesh Armed Forces in the national and international arena.
A designated corner in the United Nations Peacekeepers’ Gallery. Photo - Author
As you stroll through the Victory Arena, you will be mesmerised to see everything you have read in books. You will find cannons that the British East India Company used in the Battle of Plassey, and the Bijoy Turja symbolises the nation's military capability by integrating three forces. The most conspicuous of all is perhaps the replica of the Naval vessel used by the Mughal Navy in the 17th century called 'Sarang,' placed against the waterbody on the outside, creating the illusion that the vessel is out on a voyage.
The country’s first flag in the Army Gallery. Photo - Author
Moments of wartime brutality and humanity are laid bare in the Army gallery, which is home to over 600 artefacts, including the RR with Jeep GS Willeys deployed in the Liberation War, the cars used by General Osmany, the remains of the BTR-80 amphibious armoured personnel carrier used in the United Nations peacekeeping operations, and the country's first flag. Bangabandhu's historic 7th March speech and Bangladesh Military Academy inauguration speech are displayed on large digital screens. You will also notice the Genocide room with the diorama of the Liberation War and the projection of eleven sectors through HoloLens.
The two-storied basement Navy Gallery has exhibitions about how trade and commerce were conducted through waterways in ancient Bengal and how Bangladesh Navy has evolved throughout the decades. The gallery also offers the experience of maritime activities in the bridge simulator, an immersive submarine walkthrough, and Operation Jackpot. When you get to the lowest floor of this section, the virtual aquarium, dark lighting, and whale sounds will give you a feel of being truly underwater.
Air Force Gallery
Air Force Gallery depicts the history of the Bangladesh Air Force during the Liberation War and its gradual development through various artefacts, such as the FM-90 SAM and MiG-29, that were introduced into the force to increase its defence capability. The gallery also offers a simulated flying experience at the aircraft cockpit simulator and the holography of the Kilo Flight.
Toshakhana Museum Gallery
The Toshakhana Museum Gallery exhibits the valuable state gifts received by the country’s important government personnel. Photo - Author
The Toshakhana Museum Gallery reflects the historical perspective of the country by exhibiting valuable state gifts received by the country's important government personnel. Brigadier General Moazzem said, "The state visits by The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman after the Liberation War and the gifts received show the perception of other countries regarding the newly-independent nation." The gallery also contains the lunar sample presented by then-US president Richard Nixon.
Brigadier General Moazzem and Major Sazzad mentioned that the museum authority is in constant quest of artefacts related to the museum theme because they believe that Bangladeshi people should learn about their glorious past and commemorate it with pride. For instance, the museum authority is currently trying to contact Lance Corporal Abdul Mannan, who fought in the Second World War in support of the British Army, to collect artefacts from his personal collection.
The Director General added, "We also have plans to include robotic tour guides in the future that will help visitors navigate the museum and understand the historical interest of each artefact."
More Than Just A Museum
Bangabandhu Military museum is much more than just a museum. It has a cafeteria, seminar hall, multipurpose hall, coffee shop, souvenir shop, art gallery, amphitheatre, and also a cineplex — all of which make it a complete day tour package.
Brigadier General Moazzem disclosed that there will be a six-month-long art exhibition in the museum art gallery in September. It will incorporate 3D virtual exhibitions.
When to go
The entry fee is 50 taka per person; tickets have to be purchased online. The morning exhibition is open from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm (except Wednesday and Friday), and the afternoon exhibition is open from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm (except Wednesday). Visitors can also enjoy a beautiful multi-media show every Friday on the 'Father of the Nation' from 7:00 pm.