Science Museum, London
The Science Museum in London is one of the most important scientific museums in the world.
Founded in 1857, it is one of the three museums located on Exhibition Road, together with the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
With over 3 million visitors in 2018, the Science Museum is the 6th most visited museum in the United Kingdom and a popular attraction for children of all ages.
What today is the Science Museum was originally a part of the South Kensington Museum, together with the Victoria & Albert Museum; the two institutions officially separated in 1909 and took their modern names. Called Centre Block, the main building of the Science Museum was completed between 1962 and 1969 after a design by architect W. Kendall, replacing the older and outdated buildings of the “old” museum. A major expansion, known as Wellcome Wing, was built in 2000 after a design by MJP Architects.
In 2018, the museum opened the new Winton Gallery designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and focused on mathematics.
Science Museum London, the facade on Exhibition Road. Photo © Roos Aldershoff, courtesy of GW Franklin
The museum’s lobby. Photo Long Zheng
Collection and galleries
The 300,00-piece collection and the program of activities of the Science Museum cover four main subjects: Science, Medicine, Information Technology, and Engineering, presented into sixteen thematic galleries. The gallery layout changes frequently; furthermore, the museum often presents temporary exhibitions as “special sections” of an existing gallery. Visit the Science Museum’s website for further information on current exhibitions.
The secret life of the home gallery presents household appliances mostly dating from the 19th and the 20th century together with interactive exhibits.
Making the Modern World is a gallery of stunning objects telling the history of science and technology since 1750, from Stephenson’s locomotive and Babbage’s computer ancestor to the Apollo 10 commander module.
Energy Hall is dedicated to energy and displays also interesting historical steam machines.
Exploring Space is focused on space vehicles, satellites, and rockets.
Pattern Pod is an interactive gallery, especially aimed at children, dedicated to geometric patterns.
Tomorrow’s World presents a number of highly innovative objects which give us an idea of how our world will be in the future.
Russian VZA ejection seat and spacesuit,1963. Photo Chris Beckett
Challenge of Materials tells the history of materials from Ancient Egyptian up to superconductors.
Who Am I? is focused on human beings, in the gallery people can learn about their intelligence, genetics, and personality through interactive exhibits.
Glimpses of Medical History is a gallery dedicated to medicine, currently closed for renovation.
The Clockmakers’ Museum features over 1,000 pieces – including watches, clocks, and sundials – aimed to present British clockmaking from the 17th century to the present day.
Atmosphere focuses on Planet Earth’s fragile environment, atmospheric phenomena, and climate change.
Information Age presents 200 years of communication and information technology.
Mathematics …well, the name speaks for itself. It’s a brand new gallery dedicated to Math featuring excellent design and interactive exhibits also conceived by celebrated Iraqi-born British architect and mathematician Zaha Hadid.
Mathematics: the Winton Gallery, installation view. Photo Luke Hayes.
Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery presents the physical and chemical principles behind our everyday life experiences by the means of 50 interactive exhibits and hands-on installations.
Fly Zone features the main flight simulator of the museum.
Flight depicts the history of aviation through real aircraft: from early models to a Boeing 747.
Engineer Your Future is a problem-solving gallery aimed to promote creative thinking in engineering-related fields.
Besides its permanent exhibition, the Science Museum also regularly hosts a number of temporary and semi-permanent exhibitions, which are an integral part of the cultural program of the museum.
The museum also contains a research center, a 450-seat IMAX cinema, several educational rooms, a space for children aged 3-6 called “The Garden”, a restaurant, four cafes, and a book & gift shop; the museum’s building is fully accessible to physically-impaired people.
Interior view of the Centre Block. Photo by Lee
The Apollo 10 command module, 1969, on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C. Photo Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
A replica of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine No.2; originally designed between 1847 and 1849, this is one of the first mechanical calculators in history. Photo Luigi Rosa.
A Ford Mondeo Mk1 hanging upside down from the ceiling of the museum. Photo Maciek Lulko.
A sectioned 1959 Morris Mini-Minor automobile, on show in the Making The Modern World gallery. Photo Chris Devers
A 1937 Cockcroft–Walton voltage multiplier which powered one of the earliest particle accelerators. Photo Joybot
Cover image, the Science Museum in London, view from Exhibition Road. Photo Gary Bembridge
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On December 8, 2016, the Science Museum in London opens a new permanent exhibition dedicated to mathematics, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects
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