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                                                                                 HOME >> PLACES TO SEE >> MUSEUMS >> NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATIONAL HISTORYI

National Museum of Natural History is an institution devoted to non-formal environmental education
under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The museum owes its genesis to the Late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi, who while considering the new projects to be initiated in 1972 -- the 25th anniversary of India's Independence - decided that the country needs a museum of Natural History to depict its flora, fauna and mineral wealth to provide an out of school facility for education of children and to promote environmental awareness among the masses. The museum opened its doors to the public in the FICCI building on Barakhamba Road on 5th June 1978, with a gallery on Natural History, coinciding symbolically with the World Environment Day to further emphasize its role safeguarding the environment.

Within the last 23 years, it added three galleries, a Discovery and Activity Room for pre-school kids and conducted a variety of educational programmes and brought out popular literature.

In addition the museum started its two regional centers at Mysore and Bhopal with a third one shortly coming up at Bhubaneswar.

Exhibit Galleries
The museum has four exhibit galleries, namely: The Introduction of Natural History, Nature's Network Ecology, Conservation and Cell - The Basic Unit of Life. The first introductory gallery on Natural History portrays the origin and evolution of life and presents the variety and diversity of the flora and fauna of our country. The presentation follows a section on evolutionary sequences and evidences to establish how the present day life evolved. Another section depicts the plants and animals in their natural habitat followed by pollination in flowers, plants and their uses, harmful and beneficial insects, camouflage, adaptation of terrestrial, aquatic and aerial life in animals, endangered animals etc. These sections not only provide useful information to the visitors but also serve as valuable resources in supplementing the classroom teaching.

The gallery on Ecology presents an overview of major ecosystems of the world, role of plants as primary producers, food chains, food webs, decomposition, bio-geochemical cycles, Interrelationship among plants, animals and man, present day environmental problems such as pollution, deforestation, depletion of wildlife etc. and the ethical, aesthetic, economic and scientific reasons for conservation.

The gallery on conservation deals with almost every aspect of conservation. A dramatic life size diorama of typical deciduous forests presents two contrasting views one with a rich, balanced forest ecosystem and the other of denuded, deforested and barren terrain. That deforestation is the thoughtless exploitation of trees by man is presented symbolically through an oversized model of human hand ruthlessly uprooting a tree. Exhibits that follow give a didactic view of the importance of trees in conserving soil. Conversely deforestation leads to soil erosion, siltation of river beds and formation of wastelands. Other exhibits in the section show how valuable the tropical rain forests are for the mankind. These forests are the rich repository of genetic and biological diversity, sustaining more than 50% of the world's flora and fauna. The subsequent section of the gallery deals with depletion of wildlife, endangered species as well as conservation projects. The problem of pollution and increasing pressure of human population on internal resources are some of the other subjects presented through exhibits. In this gallery, two exhibits worth special mention in the gallery are the ones dealing with the traditional contribution of the Bishnoi community in Rajasthan to conservation of flora and fauna and the present day Chipko movement.

The fourth gallery on Cell - The Basic Unit of Life, highlights cell as the structural and functional unit of life. The gallery begins with the historical background of cell concept and converges upon various aspects of the cell. A large exhibit depicts the differences between plant and animal cells, followed by an exhibit highlighting structure and function of various cell organelles working inside the cells. The gallery also deals with organisation of the cells inside the tissues, cell diversity and specialization, defence mechanisms and cell as the basis of genetic diversity. An interesting feature of this gallery is a computer that enthuses you over to have a tap on a computer key and see what is inside you.

Discovery & Activity Rooms
One of the facilities available for children in the Museum is the Discovery Room. This is an informal activity area where children are free to choose one or several of the activities provided.

Opportunities are provided for children to handle and examine specimens, participate in creative activities such as modelling and painting and exploration of discovery boxes. This unique area also has a mini library corner for children. Children enjoy the thrill of these facilities where learning is fun and uninhibited.

An activity room is yet another facility provided for pre-school children to sensitise them with a desire to explore nature, develop creative talent and to bring in them a sense of inquiry and scientific outlook. This corner is specially designed for nursery school children to provide them with a variety of games, touch exhibits, live animals to play with or observe and a number of participatory exhibits. Children can develop animals stories with the help of cutouts and a Magneto Board, piece together jigsaw puzzles, measure their weight and height and also check their eye sight.

Educational Activities
The NMNH organises a large number of educational activities all the year round. These include inhouse and outreach programmes, temporary exhibitions and publication of popular literature for creation of environmental awareness.

Conducted Tours
Visitors to the museum are provided guided tours of the galleries by trained Educational Assistants. School children are grouped into convenient batches for meaningful interaction with exhibits and educators.

For the general public conducted tours are provided at 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM every day.

Film Shows
The museum has an extensive collection of films on wildlife, ecology, conservation and the environment in general. Films are screened every day for the visitors at 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM at the Museum Auditorium.

Temporary Exhibitions
Temporary exhibitions themes relevant to nature and environmental education are organised by the museum from time to time. These are usually set up in the Temporary Exhibition Hall of the museum. Special exhibits are also organized out side the museum to reach the public at large. The museum has participated in the Festival of India held in USA, USSR and Japan, representing the Ministry of Environment & Forests. The general theme in all these exhibitions was the natural bounties of India depicting its rich flora, fauna and ecosystems and their conservation.

School loan kits
Under its outreach programme services, the museum has a school service programme in the form of small, portable exhibit boxes dealing with selected topics from the biology curriculum. These are provided to schools on request to enrich classroom teaching. A list of loan kits available with the Museum can be had on request.

Public Lectures
The museum, under its monthly lecture series, conducts public lectures by eminent scientists and experts in the field of wildlife, ecology, environment and education. These are usually scheduled during the third or fourth week of the month.

Summer Programme
A month long summer programme for teenagers is organised by the Museum every year. The objective is to make youngsters aware of environmental issues and the way they can contribute to conservation efforts. The programme consists of museum studies, discussion sessions, outdoor nature explorations, observation and analysis of pollution problem in the urban environment, individual project assignments and exposure to the ecosystem in a National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary in India.

For young children also a month long programme is organised every year during summer vacations in which they are made to participate in nature study and creative activity in the form of painting and modelling. The objective of this programme is to encourage children to observe nature and translate those observations through the creative medium of painting and modelling.

Programme for Handicapped
Regular programmes, once in a month, are organised by the museum for the benefit of handicapped children. This includes a 'Touch, Feel and Learn' programme for blind children with the use of objects, audio-aids and Braille materials. Special guided tours and workbook activities are conducted for deaf and dumb children.

Every year, during winter, a full week is also set aside for handicapped children.

Painting Contest
A nature painting contest is held for children of different age groups every year during the Wildlife Week, i.e. the first week of October. Attractive prizes and books on wildlife are provided to the winners in these contests.

Teacher Orientation Workshop
Teachers are the guides of the younger generation. The museum conducts special programmes for teachers on the form of Teacher Orientation Workshops from time to time. This programme intends to expose school teachers to the resource materiel available at the museum and to provide know-how on the development of teaching aids for enhancing the of class room teaching.

The museum conducts outreach programmes to give them on-field experience in the study of nature through visits to wildlife sanctuaries for school children, college students and teachers etc. The other programmes include, screening of films in housing colonies, extension lectures in schools and colleges etc.

The NMNH publishes popular literature on environmental related topics, worksheets and workbooks for use by children. These include take-home leaflets on selected exhibits and nature study project packages for youngsters. These are available, free of cost, on request.

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