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The Science Museum is located in Exhibition Road in the South Kensington area of London. It houses a comprehensive collection of science associated items from 1700 to the present day, plus an idea or two of what we can expect in the future. The origins of the Science Museum are born out of the 1851 Great Exhibition, the proceeds of which went a long way towards the funding of The South Kensington Museum, later to become the Victoria and Albert Museum. One of the early exhibits was Stephenson’s Rocket, which remains as an exhibit to this day. As the collection quickly grew, it was moved to the other side of Exhibition Road but was still considered as part of the Victoria and Albert. It was not until 1885 when the Science Museum became separated from the Victoria and Albert Museum, and became a museum in its own right.

Science Museum

Science Museum 1

The collection held by the Science Museum has been divided into four sections. The Science section covers such things as chemistry, physics, and biology, concentrating on astronomy, cosmology, and earth sciences. There is a section on medical science which is based on a large collection of items that was amassed by the pioneering 19th century pharmacist, Sir Henry Wellcome. Another section concentrates on the technologies surrounding information and communications. The section on engineering technologies includes the museums unrivalled collection of items associated with the industrial revolution.

Science Museum 2

On entering the museum, usually the first display area the visitor enters is the massive East Hall, which ranges over three floors. At ground level there are a number of large exhibits which tells the story of the industrial revolution. Featured are a number of steam engines, one of which is the oldest surviving James Watt beam engine. High above this is a gigantic metal ring, who’s inner face is covered in white LED’s, The point of this becomes obvious when the visitor ascends to the Energy Gallery where visitors can type messages into a consul and the message appears travelling around the inner diameter of the ring. Great fun, but on a busy day you may have to wait awhile for your message to come around.

Science Museum 3

The Launchpad gallery has always been popular but even more so after it underwent a complete redesign. Dedicated to the physical sciences, it gives students the opportunity to explore light, materials, energy transfer, forces and motion, electricity and magnetism, and sound. The hands-on exhibits were designed with the help of experts from a number of disciplines to encourage questioning and discussion. On hand is a knowledgeable group called explainers, who are there to help the students get the most from the displays. Launchpad is set up to work with different age groups on different days so it is better to check ahead before booking a date. When a Launchpad visit is booked, it is also possible to book one of the Science Shows which last for approximately 20 minutes and involves plenty of audience participation.

Science Museum 4

Google has created a display that is intended to display the power of the internet. This exhibition is in the form of five installations, Universal Orchestra, Data Tracer, Sketchbots, Teleporter, and Lab Tag Explorer. These exhibits are not only available to visitors to the museum but also, as you would expect with Google, over the internet. This has been made possible through a project named Web Lab. As an example, it is possible, using Universal Orchestra,  using Google Chrome Web Sockets, to collaborate with others to make real-world music through robotic instruments installed in the museum.

Science Museum 5

Although there is no entry fee, there are charges for simulators, some special exhibitions, and the 450 seat IMAX 3D Cinema. If you would prefer to avoid the large numbers of school children, the museum offers adults only themed nights on the last Wednesday of each month between 6:45pm and 10pm.