Museum of the History of Science

MHS Basement Gallery
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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:

The entire collection of the Museum of the History of Science is a Designated Collection of national importance.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

(Until January 2015)

Tues-Fri 12.00-17.00
Sat 10.00 - 17.00
Sun 14.00-17.00

Closed: 24, 25, 26, 29 December and 1, 2 January 2015

NOTE: From 3 January 2015 the Museum will have new opening hours:

Tuesday-Sunday 12.00-17.00

Admission charges


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
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Dear Harry main ident

‘Dear Harry…’- Henry Moseley: A Scientist Lost to War

  • 14 May 2015 — 31 January 2016 *on now

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.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Museum of the History of Science
Broad Street




01865 277280


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.