Highly Recommended. Very well conceived. Well apart from the failure to conceive visitors’ need for car parking! But let’s forget it for the time being. Even if there was not any museum, The colonial building popularly known as State Bank Library would have demanded a visit. An edifice of royal splendor. A Pink sandstone structure which has not lost a bit of its grandeur over decades. In fact, instead of leaving their mark, Years gone by have contributed to its aura. June witnessed the launch of much celebrated Port Grand. July turned out to be even better as much awaited State Bank Museum opened up for public. A welcome distraction for grieving Karachi Wallas.
The museum was conceived in 2004 by Mr. Ishrat Hussain, then Governor State Bank of Pakistan. The building housed a library at that time which was shifted out to accommodate SBP owned historical artifacts from around the globe with Pakistani flavor dominating. It was not an easy ride. Despite patronage of the senior management, It took seven years to get it ready for public viewing. The objective of the museum is to show the concept of money progressing from cowrie shells to credit cards over the centuries. It also focuses on post partition evolution of State Bank and different financial instruments in the country.
If you are coming from Tower to II Chundrigar road then start looking for parking immediately because its a two minute walk from Merewether Tower. The museum has entrance from the new SBP building which by the way is quite ugly. Tell the guards that you want to visit the museum. They probably will give you a weird look. Ignore it and move pass the ugly new SBP building to the left. You will reach the outer parameter on the left of the museum. Feel the stark difference of aesthetics between two buildings. The ugly mess vs the pink darling! Reach the entrance of the museum and open the unwelcoming door. An even more unwelcoming guard will greet you. Insist that you are here to visit and lunch hours were over longtime ago. Enter your name in the register and walk past the scanner. You will be facing the staircase leading to the sadequain gallaery. Turn to the left and watch money progressing from cowrie shells. Keep moving and the sequential showcases will lead you to the first ATM in Pakistan. But hold on. On the left side, there are three galleries which you should not be missing, even if they are closed. Ask the curator to open them up and, in case you like to take picture, turn the lights on. The first gallery showcases pre-Islamic artifacts, the second: Islamic and third contains postage collection. All of them done exquisitely. Now head to the right section. You will see a weird set of machines. Interesting they are actually. These are first prize bond machines. Put dice into it. roll them up and take one of the dices randomly out. There is a currency printing die and other evil looking machines. There is a separate gallery on the right side showing evolution of State Bank. Now head to the awesome souvenir shop. It has some interesting collection which I am confident is the cheapest shop of its kind. It has coin prints and other replicas from indigenous civilizations. My guess: You will end up buying loads of stuff. The price range: well it appears to be 500 rupee shop as most of the stuff is in 400-600 range.
The museum remains open Mon-Friday 9:30 to 5:00 with lunch timings from 1:00 to 2:30. It is open on Sat till 1:00 with Sundays closed. Weird. Illogical. It confirms that an idea, despite the patronage of senior management and commitment of lower staff cannot achieve maximum purpose if middle management is disinterested. Please fill the guestbook on your way out. Mention the parking problem and the fact that its probably the only museum which remains closed on a Sunday.