Skip to content

Exhibitions and Galleries

From iconic galleries like Exploring Space to award-winning newer additions to the museum like Mathematics: The Winton Gallery our galleries make the museum an inspiring place to explore. We also open temporary exhibitions throughout the year covering a range of topics from science and technology to history and photography.

One of the highlights of a visit to Wells Cathedral is seeing the oldest surviving clock face in the world, in the north transept. Above the face, jousting knights on horseback do battle, with one unfortunate being knocked over. Looking on, a figure called Jack Blandifer chimes bells each quarter-hour. Originally the knights charged every hour, but due to tourist demand the display was modified in the 1960s to allow a shorter joust to happen every 15 minutes. The knights […]

Last week one of our visitors asked us a question via Twitter while looking round our third-floor Flight gallery: Help me settle a debate @sciencemuseum, how did you get the planes in the flight exhibit into the building? Good question. First opened in 1963, the gallery was refurbished in the 1990s when a couple of new planes (including our Hawker jump-jet and a Hawker Siddeley executive jet) were added. To get the aircraft into the gallery, we took some windows out, built […]

I visited Tate Britain last weekend to see a pair of fighter planes newly on show in the gallery’s central halls. Created by British artist Fiona Banner, Harrier and Jaguar sees a Sea Harrier suspended like a ‘captured bird’, according to the gallery, with a Jaguar nearby ‘belly up on the floor, its posture suggestive of a submissive animal’. It’s an arresting display. There’s nothing else. Just the two jets, one stripped bare, flipped over and defenceless, the other hanging menacingly as […]

Monday marked 401 years since Thomas Harriot made the first recorded astronomical observation with a telescope – so one year since we opened our Cosmos & Culture exhibition celebrating Harriot and other astronomers. For the last year, we’ve been lucky enough to have some of Harriot’s drawings on display, but for their long-term preservation it’s time to remove them from the light. This weekend is your last chance to see the centuries-old originals before we return them to their owner’s care and replace them […]

I wonder if the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) had a little-known sub-section devoted to pigeon fanciers.  A branch, perhaps (or a wing)? How else to explain the preponderance of interesting  features high up on old buildings that are indistinct at street level but – presumably – clear as bread crumbs to passing pigeons? I was mulling this over yesterday as I squinted at the figures and details of The Treasury’s Whitehall pediment, and then again while attempting to make out the features […]

My attention was drawn last week to an incredible set of photographs taken recently in Notting Hill Gate underground station, during refurbishment. They show a deserted passageway sealed up in 1959, with advertising posters surviving untouched to this day: The full set, by London Underground’s Head of Design and Heritage, Mike Ashworth, are on Flickr. One of them advertises the Science Museum’s then-new Iron and Steel gallery, depicting a Bessemer steel converter in mid-pour: I’ve spoken before (in posts about Barrow-in-Furness and Bessemer) about our […]

Recently, I was lucky enough to visit the mighty Victoria Falls. As I stood at the falls’ edge drenched in spray, I spotted double rainbows formed by sunlight being refracted through the water droplets. One of the first people to explain how rainbows form was the Persian mathematician Kamal al-Din al-Farisi, who was born around 1260. Using a glass sphere filled with water to represent a raindrop, he showed that sunlight is bent as it enters the drop, reflects off […]

You might wonder what this watercolour is doing in our Making the Modern World gallery. The chalky cliffs, thatched cottage and country children make a pleasant enough pastoral scene, but what does it have to do with science? The clue is in the sky, which represents ‘Cumulus breaking up; cirrus and cirrocumulus above’. These were the new names for the clouds, created by the meteorologist Luke Howard. Howard was a commercial chemist who rose to fame after lecturing “On the Modification […]

The Science Museum is formally over 100 years old. Over the century since 1909, it has had to compete with more and more media getting-in on the business of popular science. A hundred years ago, popular science publishing was already a big scene, as Peter Bowler shows in his enlightening new book, Science for All. Radio came along in the 1930s, and soon featured science. But our biggest competitor really got into its stride in the 1950s, when television began to […]

Science Museum curators seem to have a curious affinity for tunnels. Stewart’s been down a sewer, David ventured under the Thames, and I’ve just been to one of the biggest tunnels in the world, a 27km ring under Switzerland and France. Yes, it’s the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Unlike my colleagues I didn’t get to enter this tunnel – that would be a bit inconvenient right now, as on Tuesday the LHC commenced physics operations, colliding beams of protons […]

With last week’s opening of 1001 Inventions, we’ve been celebrating cross-cultural collaboration, and astronomy has plenty of examples. At the entrance to the exhibition you can see a display of objects from our collections, including this astrolabe made by Jamal al-Din in Lahore in 1666. The astrolabe is a two-dimensional model of the universe that can be held in your hand. It is also a beautiful demonstration of the way knowledge is shared between cultures. The first astrolabes were probably developed by […]

If you’re planning to attend Monday’s Centenary talk on the Large Hadron Collider, you can spot a few of its distant ancestors as you pass through the Making the Modern World gallery en route to hear Brian Cox speak. Looming large on the left of the central walkway is the cascade generator from John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton’s million-volt accelerator. This generated 1.25 million volts to accelerate protons and smash them into atomic nuclei, breaking the nuclei apart. During the Second World War this apparatus was […]

Browse posts in other categories