Nehru Museum of Science & Technology is located at the Hijli Detention camp building, now named as Hijli Saheed Bhavan, an imposing building of Byzantine architectural style. According to lore, this building was constructed to house the district headquarters of one proposed district Hijli, which eventually never materialised due to different reasons. Over the years, the political resistance to foreign rule intensified in this part of the country, and this building was converted to a detention camp for the political prisoners. In fact, the infamous firing incident by the jail guards on unarmed detainees on 16th September 1931 brought this building into limelight. Much later, this building witnessed the establishment of the first of the Indian Institutes of Technology in 1951.
Considering the historical importance of the "Old Hijli Detention Camp", Prof K. L. Chopra, Director of I.I.T. Kharagpur from 1987 to 1997, took the initiative to house in it a museum of science and technology. A taskforce to look after the museum establishment was constituted under the chairmanship of Prof. G.L. Sinha in 1989. In tune with the Nehru centenary celebrations in 1990 the museum was named after Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. On 1st July, 1990 the Board of Governors, I.I.T. Kharagpur gave approval of the Management committee to run the museum. The doors of the Museum were formally opened to the public by Mr. Russi Modi (the then Chairman, BOG) on August 3, 1990. From then on, this museum has lived up to its ideals and visions of providing a historical perspective to the advancement of scientific and technological knowledge by means of models, demonstrations, experiments and photographs.