Housing over 300,000 exhibits, which include such items as the oldest surviving steam locomotive, the first jet engine and some of the earliest remaining steam engines, the Science Museum is one of major tourist attractions of London. Founded in 1857, it is now a part of the National Museum of Science and Industry.
The museum has its origins in the Great Exhibition of 1851 – before the split, it used to be a part of the current Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1883, the contents of the Patent Office Museum were transferred to the South Kensington Museum and in 1885 science collections were renamed as the Science Museum. In 1909 it became an independent institution.
Among the 300,000 objects housed in the museum are such items as steam locomotives, the first jet engine, Charles Babbage’s difference engine and documentation of the first typewriter. The collection also contains hundreds of interactive exhibits. A recent addition is the IMAX 3D Cinema, showing science and nature documentaries, most of which are in 3D.
The museum houses many objects concerning medicine; the medical collections have a global scope and coverage. The museum also has a dedicated library, and until the 1960s it was Britain’s National Library for Science, Medicine and Technology. It holds runs of periodicals, early books and manuscripts, and is used by scholars worldwide. The Science Museum is made up of a number of galleries, some of which are permanent, while others are used to display temporary exhibitions.
The Science Museum also organises the so-called ‘Science Night’- up to 380 children aged between 8 and 11, accompanied by adults, are invited to spend an evening performing science-based activities and then go to sleep in the museum galleries amongst the exhibits. In the morning after breakfast they can continue their scientific adventure.