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A Short Guide to the Science Museum

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 The Science Museum

Location – The Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, SW7 2DD

The Science Museum as an institution has its origins in the Great Exhibition of 1851. The popularity of the exhibition ensured a large financial surplus, which Prince Albert suggested should be used to found a number of educational establishments on the nearby land. The first of these was the South Kensington Museum, opened in 1857 on land which is now part of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The South Kensington Museum was renamed The Victoria and Albert Museum and included a large number of Art Collections but rather confusingly included a number of Science Collections.
In 1909, the two collections was separated and the Science Museum was born, initially the museum was geared to providing more technical education about the historical artefacts, however after the 1960s there was a more broadly based approach which sought to show the artefacts in their historical and social context.

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The Science Museum now holds a collection of over 300,000 items, including such famous items as Stephenson’s Rocket, Puffing Billy (the oldest surviving steam locomotive), the first jet engine, a reconstruction of Francis Crick and James Watson’s model of DNA, some of the earliest remaining steam engines, a working example of Charles Babbage’s Difference engine (and the latter, preserved half brain), the first prototype of the 10,000-year Clock of the Long Now, and documentation of the first typewriter. It also contains hundreds of interactive exhibits. A recent addition is the IMAX 3D Cinema showing science and nature documentaries, most of them in 3-D, and the Wellcome Wing which focuses on digital technology.

The development of digital technologies have lead in recent years to the construction of specially-designed interactive ‘hands on’ exhibits.

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Although there is a number of permanent galleries, the Museum is now known for its exhibitions and galleries that reflect the fast changing Scientific world.

Some of the most popular galleries are:

Exploring Space

Exploring Space is a historical gallery, filled with rockets and exhibits that tell the story of human space exploration and the benefits that space exploration has brought us (particularly in the world of telecommunications).

Making the Modern World
Making the Modern World is a relatively new gallery, in which some of the museum’s most iconic objects, including Stephenson’s Rocket and an Apollo spacecraft, are imaginatively displayed along a timeline chronicling man’s technological achievements.

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Flight

Flight is another longstanding gallery, in the gallery are several full sized aeroplanes and helicopters, including Alcock and Brown’s transatlantic Vickers Vimy (1919), Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, as well as numerous aero-engines and a cross-section of a Boeing 747.

Launchpad

One of the most popular galleries in the museum is the interactive Launchpad gallery. Redesigned and reopened in November 2007, the new look gallery houses over 50 interactive exhibits illustrating many different concepts in physical science.

Another really popular aspect of the Museum is the mini shows and demonstrations it puts on for children which in a fun way shows scientific principles.

The Museum is open from 10.00 to 18.00 (last entry 17.15) every day except from the 24 to the 26 December.

During school holidays the Museum is open from 10.00 to 19.00 (last entry 18.15).

Galleries start to close 30 minutes before the Museum closes.

During school holidays the museum attracts a  lot of visitors , queuing times tend to  be longer than usual.

For more information visit the Science Museum website here

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