Sayaji Rao III Gaekwad, Maharaja of Baroda, created museums and collections within the context of early twentieth‐century politics in India. His collections were intimately tied to his many reformist projects and related museum activities (archaeological projects, scholarly publications, public education). Cultural politics also shaped the museum's textual representations in catalogues and articles by its European directors. Sayaji Rao was a ‘hybrid’, Anglicized in education and tastes, and a leader of modern Indian nationalism. Installing a large European collection in 1920 at a time of heated debate over British influences on Indian art, Sayaji Rao, through his strange arrangement of his collection, may have offered a view of colonial cultural exchange as requiring both assimilation and resistance. His European and Asian collections reflected his attempts to appropriate, control and segregate British culture, as they made tangible colonial political and social processes that shaped cultural identiities for Baroda and for modern India.