Housed in the old Palace of Rani Mangammal, the Gandhi Memorial Museum is meant to be a living institution and not merely a building showcasing exhibits, however precious. It seeks to help an ever increasing number of people particularly the youth of India to understand and to value the life, work and teachings of Gandhi. It was in the city of Madurai that Gandhi, in a historic gesture, gave up his kurta and dhoti for a simple loin cloth, the garb of the poor.
The first display is a special exhibition on "India Fights for Freedom" with 265 illustrations, depicting the history of the freedom movement. Next follows the exhibition of handicrafts donated by the states of Tamil Nadu, Mysore, Andhra and Kerala. This leads to the picture gallery which presents a visual biography of Gandhi. It contains photos, paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, and quotations. From there you enter "The Hall of Relics" where some of Gandhi's personal belongings (originals and replicas) are preserved. The bloodstained Dhoti that he wore at the time of his assassination is exhibited here. The museum’s gift shop offers books on the life of Gandhi and his teachings, along with locally made handicrafts. Khadi spinning and weaving demonstrations take place daily as well.
The museum’s grounds house an open-air theatre with a capacity of 8,000. Cultural programs, weekly film shows and public meetings are held here. In front of the museum’s main building you will find the Gandhi Kudir—a replica of Gandhi's hut in Sevagram. The northern wing of this building, houses a library, which contains about 18,000 volumes as well as archive copies of nearly 27,000 letters of Gandhi.