Today (7 March) we celebrate the 90th birthday of Dame Margaret Weston. Dame Margaret worked at the Museum for many years, joining in 1955 and becoming Director in 1973, succeeding Sir David Follett. She remained in the position until 1986 when the first Launchpad interactive gallery was opened.
Dame Margaret oversaw a significant expansion of what is now known as the Science Museum Group. On her first day as Director, Dame Margaret was in York, announcing the city as the home of the National Railway Museum (NRM). NRM opened in 1975, followed in 1983 by the National Media Museum in Bradford (known then as the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television). This period also saw the acquisition of a large former airfield at Wroughton, near Swindon, in 1979 to allow the development of collections of larger objects such as planes and submarines.
Other highlights under Dame Margaret’s leadership include the acquisition of Concorde 002 which is now housed on our behalf at the Fleet Air Arm Museum Yeovilton. Dame Margaret described how the Museum acquired Concorde, saying ‘I had a telephone call – it was all telephone calls in those earlier days, not e-mails – and the man didn’t give his name or his department. But he just said, do you want Concorde 002? It’s coming to the end of its test service. And I said, well I want to preserve it but I have no place to put it. But yes I’ll take it.’
Dame Margaret shared her reflections on working at the Science Museum in this short film recorded in 2012.