The first museum in India was the Indian Museum in Calcutta (Kolkota), originally named the Oriental Museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which opened in 1814. This housed archaeological and ethnographic collections as well as the first collections of natural history in India. There are now seventeen dedicated natural history museums in India. The first of this kind was established by the Bombay Natural History Society in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1883.

The National Museum of Natural History in Delhi was initiated in 1972 on the 25th anniversary of India’s Independence to celebrate the flora and fauna of India, and officially opened in 1978. The ground floor displayed an Indian rhinoceros, fondly known as Mohan, that had been collected from the Delhi Zoo after its death. In April 2016, a fire gutted the entire museum, but some items from the ground floor were saved, although drenched. Together with 98 other specimens, the rhino journeyed almost 400km to a museum in Sawai Madhopur, losing its tail en-route.  


In 2017, another ‘Mohan,’  a white rhinoceros, died at Assam State Zoo in Guwahati at the age of 47. He arrived at the zoo from the USA in 1974.