Millennium Post

Fire-ravaged century-old zoology museum still in shambles

On the day when the world is celebrating the 158th birth anniversary of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, a century-old museum containing priceless specimens, which was set up during his time at Calcutta University is a victim of systematic neglect.

Even Google celebrated JC Bose’s birth anniversary with a doodle showing him in his laboratory.

The museum was set up in the Zoology department of CU in 1915 when Bose used to teach in the Botany department. His pupil and later his biographer, Patrick Geddes and JBS Halden after whom a road has been renamed used to teach in the Zoology department.

Bose who addressed the international science congress in Paris in 1900 became interested to set up museums in the departments teaching science to develop scientific acumen of the students. He introduced the system of holding practical classes in addition to theoretical classes along with studying the specimens kept at the museums.

In Presidency College, he used to demonstrate experiments in classroom to create interest among his students chief among who were Satyen Bose, Meghnad Saha, Snehamay Dutta and Gyanchandra Ghosh.

The specimens housed in Ballygunge Science College were either donated by the Maharajas or collected during exchange programmes. The Maharaja of Mysore had given the foetus of an elephant that has been preserved.

A fire broke out at the heritage museum in March this year and some of the priceless specimens got damaged. But since then, no effort has yet been made to restore the museum.

For the past 10 months, the museum is under lock and key. Interestingly forensic experts had not been deployed to collect samples to determine the exact cause of the fire.

Experts of Natural History museum of London had shown keen interest to start a collaborative work as most of the specimens were gathered from Australia or Africa which were British colonies.

“The museum contains some of the rarest specimens and their proper preservation is absolutely necessary,” said Professor Ena Roy Banerjee.

The CU officials could not say when the museum would be reopened and about restoration of the specimens.
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