A fire broke out in the top floors of the National Museum in Natural History (NMNH) located next to the FICCI auditorium at Mandi House on Tuesday, gutting parts of the museum.
The three-storeyed building was a draw for school students, though over the years, footfall has fallen to a modest number. Children part of eco clubs supported by the environment ministry, that runs the museum, are among the frequent visitors.
For many, a replica of dinosaurs is what comes to mind when you think of the museum. Apart from them, there were replicas of other animals such as the cheetah and snakes. Most of these were old but had audio aids explaining their history and science.
The Natural history museum was started by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in mid 1970s along the lines of the one in the US. The museum however was a pale shadow of the American version.
It was inaugurated on June 5, 1978, to coincide with World Environment Day.
Displays in the museum included sections on conservation, biomes, solar system, endangered animals, fossils, evolution and origin of life and man’s impact on nature. It also had a collection of herpetological specimens and butterflies, according to its website.
As a part of its collection, the museum housed a library which had films on wildlife, conservation, environment, ecology, etc.
Despite the grand vision for it, the museum is not a must-visit location in Delhi as the ministry has had insufficient funds to improve the facility.
Such was the state of the museum that the government decided to renovate the museum using a one-time grant. The money was sanctioned by the UPA government.