The substantial growth in the infrastructure of the Science Centre network in India generated continuous demand for technology augmented exhibits and a training base for development of skill and capability in design and fabrication of efficient exhibits and equipment for meaningful science communication. For this purpose, the Central Research & Training Laboratory (CRTL) of the National Council of Science Museums was established as a part of the NCSM headquarters facilities at Salt Lake, Kolkata. It was dedicated to the nation by the then Honourable President of India Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma on 13th March 1993.
The CRTL spearheads new developmental work for exhibits with modern animation systems, new display techniques, various science communication activities on the Electronics, IT, AR and VR platforms and also using new types of 2D and 3D multimedia programmes. An inflatable dome portable Planetarium for interactive astronomy education is also manufactured by CRTL with license from a Learning Technologies (aka Science First). A few patents and copyrights have already been generated from the activities of the laboratory. Capability building initiatives in the field of science communication has been given priority in the last three decades in NCSM. The fruits started to appear and the growth of NCSM were apparent through a quality-driven path for achieving more efficiency and world-class service. Fortunately, team-building efforts in CRTL have successfully generated a cutting edge capability in NCSM and the Council’s exhibit designers can now handle most of the modern technology driven science communication activities adequately.
The exhibit development expertise of NCSM units and particularly of CRTL is now recognised internationally. This is reflected in a continuous demand for catalytic support from other science centres and similar institutions in India and abroad. In the recent past, CRTL has given exhibits to science centres in Australia, U.K., Israel, Turkey, Mauritius, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. CRTL developed and showcased Indian Heritage in Science and Technology by organizing International exhibitions in US, France, China, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Malaysia and Indonesia. The first Science Centre in Mauritius was set up by NCSM on a turnkey basis and it was executed through CRTL. CRTL has developed several science museum galleries across the country for state science centres, National Agricultural Science Museum (ICAR), Subir Raha Oil Museum (ONGC), National Institute of Biomedical Genomics and National Museum of Indian Cinema (Film Division). Some of the recent developments of the CRTL have received patents or copyrights and have been published through conference papers and journals.
On the basis of these activiies, NCSM has been recognized by the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Government of India as a Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (SIRO). .