National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is situated within the FICCI building on Barakhamba Road just opposite the Embassy of Nepal and very close to Connaught Place in Central New Delhi and hence can be accessible from any part of the city via Metro link and local transport with Connaught Place as one of the nearest metro station.
The Museum was conceptualised by Late Smt. Indira Gandhi, the former lady Prime minister of India on 15th August 1972 (Independence Day of India) with the idea to engage people in promoting and creating an interest in the rich Natural Heritage of India that includes the diverse mineral deposits, Flora and Fauna spanning over the country. The concept was immediately realised and the FICCI building was hired in 1978 as the Museum and was inaugurated on the 'World Environment Day' on 5th June 1978. The Museum also strives to share information with the Nation about the depleting resources of the vibrant environment of India and hence educating the masses as well as entertaining them through a display of wide Galleries and engaging students and youngsters in numerous environmental and theme based activities.
The NMNH began with just one Gallery back in 1978 but since then it has exponentially grown and seen today with three more Galleries, an Activity room and a Discovery Room. It has also established four Regional Offices and planning one in Gangtok. These four Galleries are perfectly and logically divided to depict the sequence of life cycles starting with Gallery-1 displaying the origin of life followed by Gallery-2 which describes the importance of various life forms once they are available and followed by Gallery-3 which explains the necessity to conserve them. The last Gallery-4 describes about the main unit of life, a 'Cell' and its functional importance.
The first gallery is named as the 'Introduction of Natural History' which displays the origin of life and its evolution through the centuries depicting the wide flora and fauna of India and introduces us through a series of evidences of how life evolved. Another section introduces us to the natural habitat of animals, the necessity for plants to pollinate and their utility in order to maintain their existence, continuity and evolution of life, the favourable and unfavourable insects, the need for birds, mammals, animals and aquatic species to exist and adapt themselves with the continuous changing environment, the harmful effect of deforestation and poaching leading to loss of endangered species and other life forms that are essential to maintain an ecological balance.
The second Gallery is called the 'Nature's Network (Ecology)' which provides a synopsis of the world's eco-system educating visitors about the various life cycles of plant as a product for nature and human use; how humans, animals and plants are interrelated and dependent on each other; Food chain, decomposition and the effect of increasing pollution, population and deforestation leading to the decrease in wildlife, birds and aquatic life. This section also educates all visitors on why conservation and preservation of all life forms including plants and animals are essential be it for ethical, economic or scientific reasons.
The third Gallery called 'Conservation' takes forward all the points presented in the previous two galleries to finally arrive at a conclusion that conservation of life forms is of immense importance and should be our top priority. It showcases the view of a land that is dressed with thick forest and hence is rich in soil, plant life and natural resources while the one without the forest is seen as a barren and nude terrain and thus highlights the harmful effect of deforestation. A huge model of a man uprooting a tree is displayed in this section which shows the inhuman form of humans who fail to try and understand the need for trees to conserve soil despite the fact that a few percent of the masses are educated and how various big business names and Industries exploit the land and uproot trees for their own profits. This section also educates people on why trees are important for the existence of all forms of life as they prevent soil erosion, riverbeds from silting and creation of wastelands. The other most important need of retaining rain forests is their wealth of a diverse medicinal and biological storage which are essential for all. Increasing pressure of population is resulting in the depletion of nature's natural resources and hence various theme based exhibitions and conservation projects are being presented especially contributions from the Chipko Andolan and Bishnoi Community that need a special mention.
The last and fourth Gallery is called 'Cell - The Basic Unit of Life' which introduces us to the structure and functions of a cell as a unit of life beginning from the concept of a cell and its background right through to the different attributes of it. It displays the difference in the structure, function, defence mechanism, diversity, organisation within tissues and the genetic variance of cells between humans, plants and animals.
The Discovery Room and Activity Room specialise in hosting various events and educational activities such as examining specimens, clay model making, painting, jigsaw puzzles and many other activities relating to our natural history and their importance which are both educative and enjoyable for children. Various summer programmes are also organised every year for teenagers and the physically challenged. The museum also conducts film shows every day on wildlife, eco-system and conservation at their Auditorium on the 3rd floor for all visitors between 1100 hours and 1500 hours.
The National Museum of Natural History is opened to all between 1000 hours and 1700 hours from Tuesdays to Saturdays only as all Sundays and Mondays and gazetted holidays remain closed for public. Entry is free for all visitors; however, you can enjoy a guided tour around the facility of the NMNH Museum conducted by well trained educational assistances on request only and at a reasonable rate who can help you in understanding the exhibitions and importance of this museum in detail in a more educative and interesting manner. Photography and video filming are prohibited and if you wish to do so then prior permission needs to be obtained from the Museum authorities.