A stout Tyrannosaurus Rex at its entrance had so beckoned him in to the renovated Natural History Museum that nine-year-old Adithya didn’t mind even the nagging rain.

“I wanted to see the dinosaur. Why should it bother me that it is raining,” he asks, in all seriousness.

He even pulled the rest of his family along and soon they were spending the afternoon in the museum.

The family wasn’t alone; there were several others, contributing to the unprecedented turnout the institution registered this year.

Compared to the proceeds worth Rs.2,126 calculated exactly a year ago on the ‘Chathayam’ day of Onam, this year the figure crossed Rs.13,000.

On Sunday, the day before Onam, the collection was Rs.3,500.

As against this, last year’s collection was a meagre Rs.958. On Tuesday, the day after Thiruvonam, Rs.9,925 was collected compared to last year’s 1,119.

“The ticket rates have changed, but even then the footfall has actually tripled. More than the monetary benefits, it is a real achievement that the renovation has turned the Museum into such a draw,” says Superintendent of the Natural History Museum, S. Abu. The tickets cost Rs.5 for children, Rs.10 for adults and Rs.20 for a family of four.

The continuous stream of people purchasing tickets and marvelling at the exhibits all through a rainy Wednesday has encouraged officials here to begin planning for the second phase of renovation, considering the positive feedback from the visitors.

The next phase involves state-of-the-art additions such as dioramas, three-dimensional artwork depicting extinct species, and improved lighting and tiling work for the whole two-floored building.

This may be part of activities to be carried out as part of the next financial year.

For the visitors, too, it has been a profiting experience. Padma Kumari, a staffer at the Government Medical College Hospital, finds the new signage a very valuable addition.

This Museum, she says, serves as a reminder of the sheer diversity of species and points to the grave fact that several species have either gone extinct or have been labelled ‘endangered’.

For her and her family, including two children, an excursion to this Museum is an annual affair, but this time, it was one to remember starting right from the two dinosaur models placed on the Museum premises, the enclosure housing the 20 million-year-old wood fossils, and the elaborate makeover of the foyer.

Zoo and Museum Director B. Joseph says the other buildings on the campus also recorded a huge turnout.

“We were concerned that the rain would prompt many to stay away during this peak holiday time but that is clearly not the case,” he says, while observing the masses thronging the zoo via the surveillance system put in place recently.

On Tuesday, over Rs.2.5 lakh was collected as proceeds compared to last year’s Rs. 1.5 lakh.

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