Museum of the History of Science

MHS Basement Gallery
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The Museum of the History of Science houses an unrivaled collection of early scientific instruments in the world’s oldest surviving purpose-built museum building. An active public museum, MHS offers an extensive programme of exhibitions, family-friendly events, public lectures, gallery tours and much more, along with teaching 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.

Venue Type:

Museum

Opening hours

(Until January 2015)

Tuesday to Sunday: 12:00 - 17:00
Closed on Monday.

Admission charges

Free

Additional info

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.

Collection details

World Cultures, Science and Technology, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Maritime, Decorative and Applied Art, Archives

Key artists and exhibits

  • Einstein blackboard
  • H. G. J. Moseley
  • penicillin
  • Howard Florey
  • Royal Astronomical Society
  • Royal Microscopical Society
  • Earl of Orrery
  • spherical astrolabe
  • Erasmus Habermel
  • Lewis Evans
  • Designated Collection
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
A paper fire-dragon clock made at a family-friendly event.

Chinese Dragon Fire-Clocks

  • 18 February 2016 1-4pm

Make a working Chinese dragon fire-clock to celebrate Chinese New Year. Try it out at home!
Drop-in suitable for children aged 7 upwards.

Admission

Free

Website

http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/

Calendar Curiosities

  • 28 February 2016 2-4pm

2016 is a leap year and just before 29 February we present an afternoon of calendrical conundrums – with talks and object handling.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/

A monoprint made during a family-friendly workshop of the image seen through a microscope

Making Micrographia

  • 5 March 2016 12-4pm

Use microscopes and lenses to draw insects and other tiny things, then make magical monoprints.
Drop-in suitable for children aged 7 upwards.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Especially for children

Admission

Free

Website

http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk

Picture of the astrolabe that will be discussed in the lecture.

Recycling the Astrolabe

  • 8 March 2016 From 7pm

To mark the acquisition of a new and important astrolabe in the collection, Dr Stephen Johnston (Assistant Keeper, Museum of the History of Science) presents the first research results on its story. This new acquisition to the Museum is an example of a medieval device that has been adapted and reworked in the 16th century: it tells a story of the Renaissance recycling rather than rejecting the Middle Ages.

Doors open at 6.30pm.

Part of the programme of events for the Museum's new entrance gallery exhibition: New Acquisitions (Opening 19 January 2016)

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/recycling-the-astrolabe-tickets-20052892742

Gastrophysics

  • 17 March 2016 From 7pm

Professor Charles Spence from the Department of Experimental Psychology researches the science behind “multisensory illusions” and “multisensory perception”. In this fascinating talk he explores the rapidly developing field of gastrophysics; how soundscapes and music come together with taste to make the whole experience more stimulating, more enjoyable and possibly even more memorable.

Doors open at 6.30pm.

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gastrophysics-the-new-science-of-multisensory-dining-tickets-20039111522

Light Fantastic!

  • 19 March 2016 12-4pm

Join us for a celebration of light through experiments, talks and hands-on activities. British Science Week event.
Drop-in suitable for all the family.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk

Brain Aware

  • 20 March 2016 12-5pm

An afternoon of interactive activities with Oxford researchers and students from Oxford University Cortex Club as part of Brain Awareness Week. Drop-in suitable for children aged 6 upwards.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

Yes

Website

http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/

Einstein's Easter Trail

  • 26 March — 10 April 2016

Challenge yourself to Einstein's Easter Mystery Trail. Help yourself from the Entrance Gallery.
Drop-in suitable for children aged 7 upwards.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Especially for children

Admission

Free

Website

http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk

Museum of the History of Science
Broad Street
Oxford
Oxfordshire
OX1 3AZ
England

Website

www.mhs.ox.ac.uk

E-mail

museum@mhs.ox.ac.uk

Telephone

01865 277280

Fax

01865 277288

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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