The Napier Museum and the Natural History Museum lie at the heart of the city, close to the zoological park. Constructed in the 19th century, the Napier Museum houses a large number of historical artefacts, including ivory carvings, a temple chariot, ancient ornaments, weapons, coins and bronze idols, and documents the history of the region under different rulers over the centuries. The bronze displays include images of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Parvati and Goddess Lakshmi. The metal images depict the features of South Indian sculpture style of 8th to 18th century. The Vishnu image of 8th century collected from Ambalapuzha Temple in Central Travancore with Pallava style is the oldest metal image in the state. The museum has been named after John Napier, a former governor general of Madras (now Chennai), and is also known as the Government Art Museum. A Japanese shadow play, used to depict stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, is a favourite with the visitors. The Natural History Museum is also worth a visit for its collection of prehistoric skeletal displays and taxidermy gallery.

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