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
Anna Dumitriu: BioArt and Bacteria
- 28 September 2017 — 3 June 2018 *on now
BioArt and Bacteria is a contemporary art exhibition by internationally renowned artist Anna Dumitriu which explores our relationship with the microbial world, antibiotics and technology.
Bacteria lie at the centre of Dumitriu’s ground-breaking work, which combines traditional artistic media with contemporary science to produce artwork that is not only about bacteria but actually fused with them.
The exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science plots an artistic journey from the sanatorium movement to the arrival of antibiotics, as well as exploring newer innovations in science such as whole genome sequencing, the microbiome, and the field of synthetic biology.
Museum of the History of Science