Museum of the History of Science
The Museum of the History of Science houses an unrivalled collection of early scientific instruments in the world’s oldest surviving purpose-built museum building, the Old Ashmolean on Broad Street, Oxford. The Museum is a research and teaching department of the University of Oxford, offering free access to its permanent displays and a programme of special exhibitions, family-friendly events, talks and tours, along with taught sessions for schools. For those unable to come to Oxford online versions of exhibitions are available, alongside standalone online resources on the website: www.mhs.ox.ac.uk.
The entire collection of the Museum of the History of Science is a Designated Collection of national importance.
Tuesday to Sunday: 12:00 - 17:00
Closed on Monday.
- National Art Pass
Our library is open to the public by appointment.
The entire collection of this museum is a Designated Collection of national importance.
This museum occupies the original home of Elias Ashmole's museum, the oldest purpose-built museum in Britain. Its Designated collections are dominated by an exceptional collection of early mathematical and scientific instruments from antiquity to the twentieth century, including the largest collection of astrolabes in the world. A highlight of this group of objects is the earliest known Persian astrolabe, dating from the 10th century.
The early sundial collection comprises 750 examples, the earliest being a portable Roman dial from around 250AD. The microscope collections, an important collection of telescopes, and photographic equipment including items that belonged to Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and TE Lawrence, are further important facets of this remarkable museum.
Particular strengths include early mathematical instruments, optical instruments, and apparatus associated with chemistry, natural philosophy and medicine. There is also a unique reference library for the study of the history of scientific instruments that includes manuscripts, incunabula, prints, printed ephemera and early photographic material.
World Cultures, Science and Technology, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Maritime, Decorative and Applied Art, Archives
Key artists and exhibits
- Einstein blackboard
- H. G. J. Moseley
- Howard Florey
- Royal Astronomical Society
- Royal Microscopical Society
- Earl of Orrery
- spherical astrolabe
- Erasmus Habermel
- Lewis Evans
- Designated Collection
- 31 August — 1 September 2017
Make your own linocut designs inspired by the Museum’s collection. Get first-hand experience with a mechanical printing press and print your design to take home.
Drop-in, ages 7+
- Family friendly
Cabinet of Curiosities
- 16 September 2017 2-4pm
What did museums look like 400 years ago? Learn about the strange and exciting objects these early 'cabinets of curiosity' contained. Choose objects from the museum to create your own model cabinet of curiosities.
Suitable for children aged 5-11.
Board Games and Medieval Medicine
- 27 August 2017 2-4pm
- 24 September 2017 2-4pm
The Museum of the History of Science is helping to develop new board games about medieval Islamic medicine. Help test our board games and give us your feedback.
Drop-in, ages 7+.
This event is running regularly on the last Sunday of every month.
Museum of the History of Science