National Museum of Natural History – A Treasure Lost

We are deeply saddened to learn about the massive fire that broke out at the National Museum of Natural History which has completely destroyed it. Reports state the fire started at around 1.45am last night on the sixth floor which soon spread to other floors of this building which was under renovation. The fire was put under control by 5pm but by that time it had gutted the whole building. 

Noida Diary: Museum Gallery at The National Museum of natural History, New Delhi
Museum Gallery at The National Museum of natural History, New Delhi

It was only last year May that we had visited this museum braving heat wave and dust. The museum is housed in the huge FICCI Building complex in Mandi House, a locality in Central Delhi. National Museum of Natural History was started in 1978 to raise awareness about environment and its conservation. 

The museum had three main galleries for display – Introduction of Natural History presents the origin and evolution of life and the diversity of the flora and fauna of our country. Nature’s Network: Ecology on second floor gives a general view on major ecosystems of the world and Conservation gallery with life-size diorama of forests ecosystems was spell-binding. The interactive display and the audio commentary running in Hindi and English as well giving info on the exhibits was a delightful addition to the entire museum experience. Children found the Discovery and Activity Rooms designed for enjoyable learning through activities lot more fun! 

Noida Diary: Taxidermic Leopard at The National Museum of Natural History
Taxidermic Leopard. Taxidermy is the art of stuffing and mounting animals so that they have life like appearance.

There were many interesting exhibits displaying diversity of flora and fauna. The taxidermic animals looked as if they would spring to life. The stuffed life-size bears, cheetahs, leopards in the gallery gave a sense of fear a wee-bit. The fossilized cephalopod on the first floor belonged to eons when humans were not around. There were other exhibits explaining the importance of conservation of nature. The museum was an ideal place to take your younger kids, in the age group of 3-10 yrs, to connect them with nature and its conservation. 

Noida Diary: Exhibits at The National Museum of Natural History
Food Pyramid and the Sculpture of Dodo the extinct Bird
Noida Diary: Exhibits at The National Museum of Natural History
Ecosystems on Display
Noida Diary: Exhibits at The National Museum of Natural History
Display Boards showing the Harmful Ways Human Activities Affecting the Environment
Noida Diary: Exhibits at The National Museum of Natural History
Exhibits Displaying Forestation and Deforestation

The reception area of the museum was nice and the staff very cordial. However, on our visit to the museum we were unimpressed with the upkeep of the museum. Some of the exhibits were poorly lit. No fans, no air-conditioning made the entire experience a disaster at the peak of summer. We gave film show a miss given the poorly ventilated building and no cooling system in place at the peak of summers. Otherwise, these shows are a high point of our visits to all the museums we have visited so far. 

Noida Diary: Dilapidated State of Museum and Poorly lit Display Boards
Dilapidated State of Museum and Poorly lit Display Boards

There was no entry fee which we thought should be changed. The museum had thousands of exhibits only it needed a facelift by providing better lighting, air-conditioning and updating few displays like charts which were so 90s. We are sure nobody would mind paying a token amount of money for a fairly better experience at the museum. 

Now we learn the museum was under renovation work when it caught fire. Sadly all the exhibits are lost in this fire. This, however, poses a serious question on the safety of such buildings, the people working there, thousands of daily visitors and the loss of priceless exhibits in the museum. There were rare specimen of Natural History dating back to 18,000 years ago. The National Museum of Natural History showcased our heritage and legacy and we need to ensure there is no repeat of such unfortunate accidents.

Watch the video of fire at The National Museum of Natural History


What: National Museum of Natural History
Where: FICCI Building, Tansen Marg, New Delhi 
Timings: 10am – 6pm (Monday Closed)
Contact:  011-23314849 Entry: Free 
Museum Website: NMNH  
Date Visited: May 23, 2015 

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28 thoughts on “National Museum of Natural History – A Treasure Lost

  1. Highly irresponsible act by the laborers working on the building renovation. Besides them the callousness of staff could not be ignored. The place was ill-equipped to contain the fire as it is told by the News reporter in the video. That is why the entire building was gutted. There was not any water available to douse the fire…water tankers had to be called in by the firemen. Sheer apathy ๐Ÿ™

  2. Really…very unfortunate, Kalpanaa. High-time we citizens demand accountability from various agencies entrusted with the task of preserving our culture and heritage…and also the safety of city and citizens.

  3. Certainly, the fossils and preserved specimen those were lost in the fire were priceless in terms of history and info they held within them. We owe an apology to our posterity. Sad ๐Ÿ™

  4. Yes, read about this in the news. Great loss! The world heritage day has just passed, and we are bound to rethink how safe and secure our heritage sites and museums are.Thanks for sharing and provoking thought Bush ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Indeed it is a great irreplaceable loss, Jiggs. I hope, as an aftermath of this tragedy, the Ministry and the concerned authorities come out with some SOPs (standard operating procedures) and ensure they stick to it. It is the need of the hour.

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