National Museum of Natural History, New Delhi
Museum exterior, 2011
|Dissolved||26 April 2016(destroyed by fire)|
|Location||Barakhamba Road, Tansen Marg, New Delhi, India|
|Owner||Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change|
|Public transit access||Mandi House, Delhi Metro|
The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) was a museum focusing on nature, located in New Delhi, India. Established in 1972 and opened in 1978, the museum functioned under the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the government of India. The museum was situated on Barakhamba Road at Tansen Marg in central New Delhi, across from the Embassy of Nepal, near the Connaught Place metro station. On 26 April 2016, the museum building and its entire collection were destroyed by a fire.
The NMNH's mission was to promote environmental education, both at NMNH in the capital and at Regional Museums of Natural History in other parts of the country; to provide resources such as school loan kits for schools to use in environmental education; to co-ordinate natural history projects with other agencies and organisations, both nationally and internationally; and to conduct natural history research. The NMNH's director, B Venugopal, also emphasised "intangible natural heritage" (a concept invented by UNESCO) at the museum.
The NMNH was created in 1972 as part of the celebration of the 25th year of India's independence. Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, said that India needed such a museum "to promote environmental awareness". After several years of development of its building and exhibits, the NMNH opened in 1978, on World Environment Day (5 June).
Following a negative government report in 2012 regarding the building's poor state of maintenance, in July 2015, plans were made to relocate the museum to a ₹ 2.50 billion ($39.4M, €36.4M, or £25.3M as of July 2015) green-certified building at Bhairon Marg, where "The zoological park is close by, [and] so are the National Crafts Museum, Purana Qila and National Science Centre." Regional Museums of Natural History are located in Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Gangtok, Mysuru, and Sawai Madhopur.
In the early morning of 26 April 2016, a fire broke out in the museum and destroyed the entire collection. The fire, which began around 01:30 on the sixth floor of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) building where the museum had been housed, eventually reached the second floor and destroyed all of the museum's exhibits before fire services were able to bring the flames under control. Around 200 firefighters and 35 fire engines were called; they took more than three and a half hours to extinguish the fire. Six people who became trapped in the building were later sent to a hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, although the fire's spread was fuelled by museum specimens and the woodwork holding them. Reports indicate that the devastating effect of the blaze was due to the building's sprinkler system being out of order.
Exhibits at the NMNH were focused on India's plants, animals and mineral wealth, and were divided into four main exhibit galleries: "Cell: The Basic Unit of Life", "Conservation", "Introduction to Natural History", and "Nature's Network: Ecology". The museum had an extensive collection of films on wildlife, ecology, conservation and the environment in general, as well as rare biological specimens, including herpetological specimens, dinosaur fossils and mounted animals. There were also galleries on the origin and evolution of life, conservation of nature, the food chain and exhibits of flora and fauna. A 160 million-year-old fossil of a sauropod and stuffed animals by renowned Mysuru-based taxidermists Van Ingen & Van Ingen were part of the museum collection.
The museum also featured a Discovery Room and Activity Room, specifically designed for children, where designated specimens could be handled by visitors. Guided tours, and specially designed resources for disabled visitors, were also available. Specific exhibits included a sauropod fossil, "a collection of bird eggs including those of the ostrich and the long-billed vulture", and "stuffed animals including various big cats".
Plans for future exhibitions, as of 2015, had included "climate change, global warming, combating desertification, tsunami, [and] depletion of [the] ozone layer" as well as "more digital displays ... [a]nd an IMAX theatre". The museum was also acquiring dinosaur egg fossils from Narmada Valley, Gujarat.
- List of destroyed heritage
- Rajiv Gandhi Regional Museum of Natural History, Sawai Madhopur
- Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhubaneswar
- Regional Museum of Natural History, Mysore
- Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhopal
- National Museum of Brazil fire
- "About us". NMNH official site. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
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- "National Museum of Natural History". Delhi Information. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- Doshi, Vidhi (26 April 2016). "Fire guts Delhi's natural history museum". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
- "Vision & Mission". NMNH official site. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- Priyadershini, S. (6 October 2012). "Fragile legacy". The Hindu. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- "Makeover for natural history museum". The Times of India. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- "Fire destroys Delhi's National Museum of Natural History". The Indian Express. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- Mehrotra, Sonal (26 April 2016). "Delhi's National Museum of Natural History Destroyed in Massive Fire". NDTV.com.
- "Delhi Museum fire: Safety systems failed, priceless exhibits gutted". India Today. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- "Massive fire destroys Delhi's National Museum of Natural History". The Times of India. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- "Museum after blue whale bones". The Times of India. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
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