Museum, aquarium, science park and more….. The Bal Bhavan complex in Delhi is a treasure house of fun and knowledge.
The Bal Bhavan complex located on Kotla Marg in the capital houses everything from the National Children's Museum to an aquarium, science park, jet fighter plane and a functional mini train for children, along with numerous on-going activities and workshops.
Bal Bhavan runs under the supervision of the Ministry of Human Resource Development as an autonomous centre and aims at encouraging and assisting creative vision and thought in children, along with providing them with opportunities to participate in various activities and find a common platform to meet and interact with others their age.
Lots to see
The Centre, a huge campus beautifully decorated with clay murals, is extremely popular with children of all ages and aptitudes.
The National Children's museum is one of the prime attractions of the Bal Bhavan, part of almost every school's list of preferred visiting venues. Planned especially keeping in mind a child's urge to explore and examine, the museum is a treasure chest of information about India's tradition, culture and life, full of colourful toys and dolls from various countries, jewellery, art and craft samples, musical instruments and a lot more. Everything is laid out and explained in a manner that is both interactive and interesting, the language simple so as to interest the children but not confuse them. The museum houses two types of galleries, the permanent galleries and the temporary galleries which are mostly theme based exhibitions put up for short periods of time. Hamara Bharat (Our India) is one such permanent gallery, presenting the cultural, religious and artistic heritage of the country, as well as scientific and technological achievements. Audio visual shows are put up to highlight the same. Gaurav Gatha (Story of Pride) is another permanent gallery that retells the story of India's past civilisations, legends, myths and freedom struggle. , depicting landmarks and important events that marked the history of India, including their first struggle for Independence, battles, failures, victories and social reforms.
Along with the exhibits, the museum holds many participatory activities and workshops, leaving the children free to experiment and analyse as they learn, using unconventional methods and world class principles, keeping in mind a child's psychology and converting theoretical application into practical application. The Surya Week, a programme based on one of the permanent exhibitions, The Surya or Sun Gallery, a programme which aims to provide information about the Sun through multiple activities, interactions with astronomers and visit to places like Jantar Mantar.
In the months of May/June every year, the museum also holds museum week in commemoration of the ‘World Museum Day', aiming to create awareness about the importance of museums among children. Apart from these, numerous theme based workshops are held, inviting craftsmen from all over the country to teach and assist children in art forms like Worli, Madhubani and leather painting, puppets, kite making and many more. Special Programmes for visually impaired children are also held. The summer vacations are a particularly active time for the museum, with multiple workshops on art, painting, dance, music and theatre being conducted. Curriculum based workshops are also held where non-formal educational methods are used to teach school subjects.
An exhibition, called the children's creative work is also put up in the museum, displaying pieces of art by the children, including work from over 50 Bal Bhavan Kendras (Centres). The displays are changed regularly to incorporate the efforts of every child. Apart from the activities arranged by the museum; the children can make use of the various ones offered by the Bal Bhavan itself. Facilities like a drama kit, puppets, costumes and toys are provided so that children can put up their own show. A hostel, along with facilities for sports and games is also available, as is a venue for clay modelling. The science part, a proper functional mini train and a real jet fighter are some of the other attractions.