`There has been a big rise in the number of visitors to science museums'
BANGALORE: There had been an unprecedented increase in the number of children and students visiting science museums across the country, indicating a surge in interest in pure sciences, Ingit Mukherji, Director-General of the National Council of Science Museums, said here on Monday.
Over 60 lakh people visited science museums and 25 lakh people came to science exhibitions this year. There was a jump in the number of visitors to the museums and exhibitions from 19 per cent to 26 per cent and from 35 per cent to 36 per cent respectively during last year and during 2006-07. Over 32 per cent of the visitors were students.
"The council sees in this a need for proliferation of more museums across the country," Mr. Mukherji, said at a press conference. He was here to inaugurate the `Science for Children Gallery' at the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, which has been set up at a cost of Rs. 50 lakh. The VITM saw nine lakh visitors this year.
The Director-General said a regular assessment of the impact of these science centres and exhibitions was made by issuing questionnaires to visitors.
He said the indicators were very positive, and interestingly, many students made more than one visit to the museum.
Though the council was unable to make a commitment on setting up more museums, the eight ongoing projects were progressing well.
Mr. Mukherji said science centres were being set up in Jaipur and Udaipur in Rajasthan, two in Jammu and Kashmir, one each in Orissa, Andaman and Lakshadweep, Himachal Pradesh and Assam. A science centre in Dharwad and Solapur were on anvil. The council was engaged in setting up a museum in Kathmandu.
To meet the growing demand, he said six more museums were being set up and were waiting for the approval of the Union Government. In addition, the Government was planning to have 14 museums by the end of the 11th Plan. A science city was coming up at Kapurthala in Punjab at a cost of Rs. 50 crore. Another science city had been planned, but the place was yet to be decided. A planetarium would be established at Kurukshetra in Haryana. It would be named after astronaut Kalpana Chawla. Mr. Mukherji said the VITM would be linked to major centres in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore through V-SAT. Apart from all these, there were 27 museums run by the council and 11 more were under the respective State governments.