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By Charlotte Connelly on

Science Museum Enters The Information Age

Last night the Science Museum announced exciting details about a new £16m communications gallery, Information Age, writes curator Charlotte Connelly

Charlotte Connelly is a Content Developer for Information Age, a new communications technology gallery opening in September 2014.

Last night the Science Museum announced exciting details about a new £16m communications gallery, Information Age, which will open in September 2014.

Artist’s impression of the Cable Network exploring electric telegraph.
Artist’s impression of the Cable Network exploring electric telegraph. Image credit: Science Museum / Universal Design Studio

The gallery will be a celebration of information and communication technologies. We’re already working on cutting edge interactive displays and participatory experiences that will reveal the stories behind how our lives have been transformed by communication innovations over the last 200 years.

Hundreds of unique objects from the Science Museum’s collections will go on display, many of which have never been seen before. They will include the BBC’s first radio transmitter 2LO, the BESM-6, the only Russian supercomputer in a museum collection in the West, and a full sized communications satellite.

Laying the first transatlantic telegraph cable in 1858 proved to be a tricky challenge to overcome. (Source: Science Museum / SSPL)

In Information Age we tell some of the dramatic stories behind the growth of the worldwide telegraph network in the 19th century and the influence of mobile phones on our lives today. Visitors can uncover stories about the birth of British broadcasting and learn about pioneering achievements in the development of the telephone. The role of satellites in global communications and the birth of the World Wide Web will also be explored in the new gallery.

Not only are we working hard behind the scenes of the Museum, we’ve also been working with lots of other organisations to develop the gallery. For our mobile phone display, we have a great selection of objects collected in Cameroon – look out for a blog post all about that coming soon! We’ve been working with Cameroonian communities in both Cameroon and the UK to decide how these stories are displayed.

We’ve also interviewed women who worked on the manual telephone exchange at Enfield in North London. Their stories have been selected by young women from the same area to be included in the gallery.

Our Curator of Communication, John Liffen, looking at a section of the Enfield exchange when it was installed in the Enfield Museum (Source: Hilary Geoghegan)

Watch this space to discover more about Information Age as the team will be writing regular blog posts about their work on the gallery to keep you up to date. Add your comments below to tell us what you would like to find out about.

4 comments on “Science Museum Enters The Information Age

  1. Will this gallery showcase and celebrate the UK’s invention of much of modern computing, including the first stored-program computer (Manchester 1948), the first computer with integral I/O (Wilkes, Cambridge), the first commercial software (Lyon’s Electronic Office, LEO, 1951), the floppy disk (Birkbeck, 1959), virtual memory etc etc? Surely this story needs to be the central and largest part of the new gallery!

    I’m sure that the Royal Academy of Engineering would be pleased to help.


  2. Hi Martyn,

    Thanks for the comment. There will certainly be a large part of the gallery dedicated to computers, and especially computer networks. We can’t give every story equal weight (and we want to keep a few surprises for when we open!) but rest assured we’ll be featuring some of the stories you’ve mentioned.


  3. At last! I can’t believe it’s actually finally happening. By the time this is opens in 2014 it will be 25 years since I first started working with Doron Swade on what was supposed to be the “new” Information Age gallery to replace the then very old looking computing gallery. I’m looking forward to seeing the results, good luck!!

    1. Hi Marcus, thanks for the good wishes. This is a slightly different project to the one you’re remembering, I’m pleased to say we haven’t been working continuously on this for 25 years! The new gallery won’t just be about computing although that will be a significant part of it as you can’t talk about information without thinking about networked computers. I hope when we do eventually open that you like what we’ve done!

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