The Peshawar Museum was founded in 1907 in memory of Queen Victoria. The two-story building features an amalgamation of British, South Asian, Hindu, Buddhist and Mughal Islamic architectural styles. Originally, there was only one main hall. Two halls were added in 1969-70. In 2004-05, an additional block was completed with two galleries, two halls for the reserve collection, offices for the provincial directorate of archaeology, a conservation laboratory and a cafeteria. The original building was renovated during that time.The current collection has almost 14,000 items based on Gandhara, Greco-Buddhist, Kushan, Parthian, and Indo-Scythian life.
Examples include art, sculptures, coins, manuscripts, statues, ancient books, early versions of the Holy Quran, weapons, dresses, jewelry, Kalash effigies, inscriptions, paintings of the Mughal and later periods, household materials and pottery, as well as local and Persian handicrafts.Peshawar Museum has one of the largest and most extensive collections of Gandhara art of the Buddhist period and is considered to be one of the biggest collections of Buddhist objects in the world. The museum also contains the largest collection on Gautama Buddha. Buddhist stone sculptures, terracotta figurines, and other Buddhist objects. The display of Gandhara Art in the main hall includes Buddha's life stories, miracles, worship of symbols, relic caskets, and individual standing Buddha sculptures.
Some of the best works are the Mughal Islamic metal artifacts in bronze and silver, the calligraphic specimens and scrolls that date as far back as 1224.This gallery mainly consists of items displaying the culture and life of the major tribes of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and the Kalasha Desh located in the far north of the province, where a small tribe of animists called the Kalash live. The museum exhibits cultural items of the Kailash Valley. Exhibits also include swords, daggers, spears, long bows, recurve bows, arrows, shields, muzzle-loading guns, revolvers, pistols and gunpowder boxes.
The ethnological objects of that period are also exhibited in the museum.The Peshawar Museum has 8,625 coins, 4,510 of which are pre-Islamic. The main interest of the museum's numismatic collection is that the coins were recovered from archaeological sites, including: Shah-Ji-Ki-Dheri, Shari Bahlol, Takht-i-Bahi and Jamal Garhi. The collections of Bactrian Greek, Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian, Indo-Parthian and Kushan coins have been published.This gallery exhibits wooden facades of mosques, ancient Arabic and Persian inscriptions, fine Multani tiles and ceramics, and the dresses and weapons of Syed Ahmad Shaheed Barailvi and numerous ancient leaders.