The Asiatic Society founded in 1784 by Sir. William Jones is a unique institution having served as a fountainhead of all literary and scientific activities. It was visualised as a centre for Asian studies including everything concerning man and nature within the geographical limits of the continent. It is located at Kolkata.
The Government has declared the Society as an institution of national importance.
The library of the Asiatic Society has a huge collection of about 1,17,000 books and 79,000 journals of all the major languages of the world.It also has a collection of large number of maps, microfiches, microfilms, paintings, pamphlets and photographs. JuliFirmici’sAstronomicorumLibri published in 1499 is the earliest book preserved here. The library also has large number of manuscripts of different languages and scripts. Most notable one is the manuscript of PadshahNama bearing the signature of Emperor Shahjahan.
The museum of the Asiatic society was established in 1814 by N. Wallich. It has transferred most of its collections to Indian museum of Culcutta. However it still possesses some masterpieces like a rock edict of Asoka (c. 250 BCE), Joshua Reynolds’ Cupid asleep on Cloud and Guido Cagnacci’s Cleopatra etc.