The National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), an autonomous society under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India was formed on 4th April 1978. The NCSM forms the largest network of science centres and museums in the world under a single administrative umbrella.
The first science museum, Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM), Kolkata under CSIR, was opened on 2nd May 1959. In July 1965 the second science museum, Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum (VITM) was opened in Bangalore. After Kolkata and Bangalore, the work for the third centre at Mumbai was taken up in 1974. As the popularisation of science and technology through the science museums grew in scope and size, the Union Planning Commission constituted a Task Force in early 1970’s to assess the activities of the science museums. The Task Force recommended to set up science museums in different parts of the country at national, state and district levels and also recommended the formation of a central coordinating agency. In 1978, it was decided by the Government of India to delink from CSIR the two science museums already operating at Kolkata and Bangalore and also the one being set up at Mumbai and put them under a newly formed Society registered on 4th April 1978 as National Council of Science Museums (NCSM).
The NCSM, with its headquarters in Kolkata administers 25 science centres/museums spread all over India. The following are the national-level centres of NCSM and all these centres have its regional centres and district level centres called Satellite Units (SUs).
In addition, NCSM develops science centres/museums for different states and union territories of India. NCSM has also developed several centres and galleries for different government organsiations such as ONGC, BEL, ICAR and also collaborated internationally for the development of museum/science centres or for galleries such as Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre, Mauritius, ‘India’ gallery on Buddhism at ‘International Buddhist Museum’, Sri Lanka etc. NCSM has also sent exhibition to countries like Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Russia, USA, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, France and the journey continues.
The NCSM strives to communicate science and educate masses by its following activities:
The Central Research & Training Laboratory (CRTL), Kolkata is the council’s central hub for professional training, research and development. CRTL is engaged in the research and training works related to the development of exhibits, galleries and science centres/science museums. CRTL conducts workshops and training program from time to time to enhance the skills of manpower engaged with NCSM and its centre.
An innovation hub is a place which provides facilities to nurture new ideas and help develop an inquisitive perspective in youths of today. The Innovation hubs created by National Council of Science Museums engage youth in innovative and creative activities. These hubs serve as springboards for new ideas and innovation and thus helping the society and economy to face future challenges and meet rising aspirations of the growing population. Specifically, embedding such creative pedagogies in science education through innovation hubs would have the potential to retain talent in modern science.
List of Innovation Hubs
In 2011, NCSM has formed a fully owned company named Creative Museum Designers (CMD) for development of Museums, Science Centres, Galleries etc. The main objectives of CMD is to conceptualize, design and development of Exhibits, Exhibition Galleries, Museums, Science Centres, Planetaria and such other Knowledge Centres on turnkey basis.
The Mobile Science Exhibitions (MSE) are basically science exhibitions on buses based on various themes of science and technology. The MSE is an attempt of NCSM to communicate science in rural areas. These buses target the population which is unable to visit any of the science centres of NCSM. First MSE was launched by Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM), Kolkata which is a centre under NCSM in the year 1965. Since then MSEs have been proved as an important tool in communicating science in rural areas. At present, 23 MSE buses of different centres of NCSM spread across India, go around the nearby rural areas and communicate science.