Saturday, November 28, 2009

A museum to promote conservation education

To create environment awareness and to promote conservation education to the entire country National Museum of Natural History decided to have regional offices in the form of Regional Museum of Natural History (RMNH) in different parts of the country in a phased manner to extend its activities (NMNH) at regional and state levels. Hence, the first regional office ‘Regional Museum of Natural History’ was inaugurated on 20th May 1995 at Mysore which is undertaken by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India,
The exhibits that are displayed in the museum are made up of judicious mix of specimens, models, translates and audio visual aids. The museum authorities periodically organize workshops relating to protecting the environment, preservation of wildlife and camps for students and nature enthusiasts. They also arrange film shows on topics related to natural history.
The museum exhibits plants, animals and geology of the southern region of India. The galleries emphasize the conservation of nature and natural resources by depicting the ecological inter-relationship among plants and animal. They are displayed in a systematic manner with the objective to provide general information on the latest development about the geological wealth, flora and fauna of the state. Visually challenged students can also feel the exhibits of animals on the premises.

Mysore is a historical city. After the opening of the Regional Museum of Natural History (RMNH) it has added another landmark to its glory. This RMNH is located on the banks of Karanji lake with the backdrop of Chamundi hills.
This museum gives the information to the visitors on the natural environment, ways to conserve and protect it and an opportunity to explore and understand the nature and natural world. It uses models, audio-visual aids, and thematic, interactive and participatory exhibits to help the visitor understand the natural world. These exhibits make learning an interesting and enjoyable experience. The learning in the captivating environment of the Museum is indeed a fun and truly enjoyable.
The objectives of the Museum are:
* To develop exhibits depicting floral, faunal and geological wealth of the southern region of India.
* To depict ecological inter-relationship among man, plants and animals and to emphasis the importance of conservation through exhibits and educational activities.
* To provide special exhibits and activities to enrich children on curriculum-based studies in biology and geology with emphasis on environmental aspect.
* To organise specialized educational activities for the disabled.
* To publish popular educational materials useful for environmental education.
* To develop appropriate institutional collaborations in the Southern India

Exhibit galleries
The Museum has a gallery with many sections dealing with the Biological Diversity; Life through the Ages; Discovery Centre, Discovery Room and Bioscience Computer Room and Temporary Exhibitions. The further galleries which will be introduced are on themes of Ecology and Conservation.
Biological Diversity
This gallery projects an overall theme of ‘Biological Diveristy’ depicting the biodiversity of the Southern region of India with special emphasis on Western Ghats. This section presents the basic concepts of natural history and the reasons for diversity of geological, some endangered species of plants and animals heritage and the geography and geology of the region. The diorama of the western ghats represent the diversity of the natural heritage and its importance, influence on climatic factors like rainfall and humidity.
The section on Tropical Rain Forests signifies the importance of the rain forests in the tropics by possessing the enormous biological and genetic wealth. It also depicts the adaptations of plants and animals in this region through various themes such as insectivorous plants, camouflage, canopy levels, climbing mechanism and plants, gliding mechanism of animals, bright coloration of birds and butterflies so on. The requirement of trees and forests to our life is also shown.
The next section which enthralls is the life-like depiction of Wetlands and its associated environment captured in a diorama. The section also highlights the variety of diversity of plants and animals and their adaptation as well as usefulness. Mangrove forests are also shown.

The section on Sea depicts a diorama of a marine habitat, the adaptation of marine life and the vastness and importance of different shores, estuaries and deep seas are vividly presented. The section concludes with a scale model of the blue whale.
A huge panel on the other side of the gallery shows river Cauvery - the lifeline of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The audio-visual along with the panel explains the course of the river from its origin at Talacauvery to its joining the sea near Poompuhar. The various land marks, and the cultural, biological and geological heritage of the areas served by Cauvery are also shown. The gallery concludes with a large exhibit panel cautioning against the destruction of our natural heritage.
Life through the Ages
This section deals with the biological diversity that today’s life on earth is a result of millions of years of evolution. This fascinating fact has been presented in an interesting manner with a truly captivating environment through a walk-through tunnel, where the visitor explores the mysteries of life over time and space. The evolution of man is depicted in the tunnel and the tunnel ends with the emergence of the modern man.
Discovery Centre and Discovery Room
This is one of the attractions and interactive section of the museum, where many efforts are made to activate the visitors by choosing various senses of activities leading to discovery learning. Participants can also involve in creative activities such as painting, modeling and preparing animal masks, costumes and they can discover information contained in several discovery boxes.

The discovery room provides opportunities for children to handle examine and study specimens through participatory activities and discover information contained in several discovery boxes. A sand pit is another attraction of the Discovery Room. There are also many useful books for children’s reference.
Children will be spellbound and enthralled by the variety of toys and jigsaw puzzles provided. There is also a mini theatre, Bioscience lab, a sound booth and a mini stage which provides opportunity for puppetry, audio-visual presentations, skits, demonstrations and many other facilities will keep children engrossed learning with enjoy, fun and creative manner,
The laboratory corner provides children with facilities to become ‘young scientis’ and they can have their health cards like weighing balance, height measuring and eye-testing facilities. Timings: 10.30 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 4.30 pm.
Bioscience Computer Room
This facility is meant for high school and college students. It enables them to study biology using computers. The advanced technologies like Multimedia techniques provide the visitors with a new learning experience about nature through interactive facilities. It is open between 10 am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 4 pm.
Temporary Exhibitions
A small hall near the entrance foyer provides visitors with exhibition on various themes of contemporary interest. The themes are changed at regular intervals.
Other Resources
Library: The museum has a reference library with more than 4,000 books related to Botany, Zoology, Geology, Museology, Biology, Environmental Science, Natural History so on. It is open between 10.30 am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 4 pm.
Museum Theatre: Films related to Natural History, especially wildlife movies are screened daily between 12 pm to 1 pm and 4 pm to 5 pm. This theatre is also used for public functions.
Out door exhibits: The museum campus provides visitors ‘Nature’ in its splendour. A ‘Bird watching Tower’ to view the nearby Karnaji lake nature park where hundreds of birds come for migrating. The majestic Chamundi Hills can also be viewed from here.
Garden for the disabled - Touch, Feel and Learn
A unique learning centre - "Touch, Feel and Learn - Live plant Bioresource Centre is the first special garden museum for the visually impaired in India. It’s an effort to being the deprived to the main stream of the society and to feel them normal.
Interpretation through personal means, Braille labels and audio commentary help them to understand nature. The visitors are also allowed to touch, smell and feel leaves and other parts of the various medicinal plants available in the garden. The facility is available to persons with disabilities. This specially designed floral garden provides all basic amenities to reach the needed one.
The centre is located on the serene lawns of the museum around an half acre of land with lush green all round. And the area of the garden is divided into the two categories:
Orientation: Where the guidance, embossed drawings and labels are provided for the visually impaired.
Straight Pathway: The long pathway helps the visitors to move ahead by touching a few trees located on the side.
The RMNH also organizes awareness programs and various educational and environmental activities in collaboration with other government and non-government agencies. Modern methodology and advanced equipments are used to present the natural science in an interesting way to cater the curiosity of the visitors.
The galleries [Biological Diversity and Life through the Ages] are opened between from 10 am to 5 pm on all days except Mondays and National Holidays. Entry to the museum is free.

Kerala mural art comes to city

Kerala, the God's own country on the southwestern coast of India, has won the admiration of visitors because of its tradition and lush greenery. A study of the Kerala mural paintings will make one understand the State's art and cultural tradition.
To impart training in traditional mural painting of Kerala, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Mysore, has orga-nised a Museum Education pro-gramme under 'Do & Learn' series at Wellington House on Irwin Road. It will conclude on Dec. 1.
"Art in Kerala is as old as civili-sation in the region and they have gone through intensive time-tested process of alteration and development," says Koolippara Raman Babu, Faculty Member, Department of Mural Painting, Malayala Kala Graman, New Mahe, Kannur, Kerala, who is imparting training for more than 30 artists from city in mural paintings.
"Painting murals is very much different from painting smaller works. A person is completely overwhelmed and absorbed by the painting itself. It will also help in building up imagination," opines Babu.
"Basically, the students who are learning this art are painters themselves and they learn with very enthusiasm and zeal. At first, the students will be taught how to trace on a canvas cloth and then paint," says K.R. Babu.
Mural painting
Kerala holds the second place in having the largest collection of archaeologically important mural sites, the first being Rajasthan. The roots of the mural tradition of Kerala could be traced to seventh and eighth century AD. These paintings are frescos depicting mythology and legends, drawn on the walls of temples and churches in South India, especially in Kerala and bring Ajanta and Ellora paintings to one's mind.
The subjects for murals were derived from religious texts, palaces and temples with unique pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses. Flora, fauna and other aspects of nature are also taken as background. They are pain-ted using natural pigments and revived by a new genre of artists actively involved in researching and teaching mural art.
The colours selected by the artists symbolise the permutations of the psychological qualities embodied in the quasi-scientific philosophical systems of the gunas the triple division of all reality with — Satva (the noblest), Rajas (the active and middle principle) and Tamas (the dark and destructive principle) respectively.
The colour symbolism is traditionally green for Satvik, red and mixture of red and yellows for the rajasik and black (Shaivite) and white (vaishnavite) for the tamasik deities. Saffron red is the most commonly used colour of Kerala murals.
The composition factors governed are proportion, pose and background. For instance, the face will be divided into three sections with neck to one fourth of the face and length of the chest is to be equal to that of the face. There are also broad principles for the depiction of the eyes expressing different emotions. Similarly, the visualisation of animals, trees, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, fish, temples, market etc. are governed by distinct principles and rules.
Murals decorate the inner walls of the room, ceiling or other large permanent surface and it covers a variety of techniques including fresco, mosaic, stained glass and photography. An interesting type of mural is painting on canvas, which is then attached to a wall or painting directly on the wall surface itself.
Creating effective mural painting requires sturdy brushes, paint, glazing and the most important factor, your imagination. Acrylic paints are used for the actual mural painting. Brushes for painting on the walls are made of blades of certain grass and roots of some trees. Sharpened bamboo pieces are used to draw outlines of murals. The best bru-shes for use with acrylic paints are high quality synthetic ones.
Herbal and vegetable dyes, fruit juices, minerals and chemical extracted from the earth, stones, root and such natural materials are used for making the paint.
[November 27, 2009]