Museum of the History of Science
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. 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.
(Until January 2015)
Sat 10.00 - 17.00
Closed: 24, 25, 26, 29 December and 1, 2 January 2015
NOTE: From 3 January 2015 the Museum will have new opening hours:
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
For the Love of It
- 28 April — 2 August 2015
We often believe that science is reserved for trained experts working in technical environments. ‘Science’, however, can also exist outside of the laboratory. It, and its precursor ‘natural philosophy’, have been part of home, work and leisure for centuries.
This exhibition aims to connect the contributions of historic amateur scientists with your personal everyday scientific practices.
Curated by students from the University of Oxford’s MSc in History of Science, Technology and Medicine
‘Dear Harry…’- Henry Moseley: A Scientist Lost to War
- 14 May — 18 October 2015
Henry ‘Harry’ Moseley was an exceptionally promising young English physicist in the years immediately before World War I. His work on the X-ray spectra of the elements provided a new foundation for the Periodic Table and contributed to the development of the nuclear model of the atom. Yet Moseley’s life and career were cut short when he was killed in 1915, aged 27, in action at Gallipoli, Turkey.
With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Museum of the History of Science’s centenary exhibition, ‘Dear Harry…’ – Henry Moseley: A Scientist Lost to War, marks Moseley’s great contribution to science and reveals the impact of his death on the international scientific community and its relationship with government and the armed forces.
‘Dear Harry…’ tells the moving and personal story of the life and legacy of Henry ‘Harry’ Moseley – son, scientist, and soldier.
- Any age
Alchemy and the Laboratory
- 10 March — 7 June 2015 *on now
The Woodmansterne Art Conservation Fund has supported work on a remarkable 17th-century painting of an alchemical laboratory in the Museum’s collection. To celebrate the painting’s return it is displayed with other paintings, prints and manuscripts that illuminate the history of alchemy.
- 15 May 2015 7-10pm
An evening of the elements, with music, film, tours and trails. Look out for full details of activities and events online. Part of the annual international Museums at Night celebration.
- Any age