Birla Industrial & Technological Museum
Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM), the first scientific and industrial museum in India, is one of the prime attractions of Kolkata. This sprawling property on Gurusaday Road was initially known as Birla Park and was a luxurious residence of historical importance. The transition from Birla Park to a public science museum took 3 years and was made possible under the initiative of Dr. B.C. Roy, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal. The museum was opened to the public on 2nd May, 1959.
During the first few years of its inception, BITM housed a few galleries. Gradually, in its strive to upgrade, it is constantly adding new galleries and improving the existing ones. Science demonstration and lectures for students is a regular feature of BITM. This apart, it is also the pioneer of the Mobile Science exhibition (MSE) i.e. the first exhibition on wheels. A 3D show has been introduced in 2006 and currently a show called “A world in darkness” is on display for the visually challenged people.
Location of Birla Industrial and Technological Museum
The property of Birla Industrial and Technological Museum on Gurusaday Road was known as Ballygaunge Store Road before 1919. However, since its inception, it has remained in this address of Gurusaday Dutta Road, Kolkata.
History of Birla Industrial and Technological Museum
Originally, the property of BITM belonged to the Tagores and Meera Devi, Rabindranath Tagore’s fourth child spent a large part of her childhood days in this building. In 1919, G.D.Birla bought the property from Surendranath Tagore and converted it to Birla Park. After the takeover, the architects N. Guin and Co. rebuilt the house and it is this structure that we see today.
Despite of the handover, Birla Park remained a special address and attracted a large number of luminaries from all walks of life like Mahatma Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Pandit Modan Mohan Malavya and so on. Now the transition from Birla Park to Birla Industrial and Technological Museum is an interesting story. In 1956, Dr. BC Roy, the then CM of West Bengal felt that it was absolutely necessary for a developing country to have such museums of Science, Technology and Industry. His idea was matched with that of Sri GD Birla who handed over the space to Jawaharlal Nehru (the then PM of India) to set up a proper science museum in Kolkata. The transformation process took up 3 years and on 2nd May 1959 the museum was opened to public by Union Minister Professor H. Kabir, in the presence of Dr. BC Roy, Sri BM Birla and Prof. MS Thakur, the then Director General of CSIR.
Galleries of Birla Industrial and Technological Museum
Initially there were galleries on Iron and steel, Copper, Petroleum, Electricity, Nuclear Physics and Motive power. Then one after another came galleries on Communication, Mining, Popular Science, Electronics and TV, Fascinating Physics, Life science, Mathematics, Transport and so on. The mock up underground coal mine was inaugurated in 1983 and remains a popular attraction till date.