History of Science Museum

Welcome to the History of Science Museum!

The History of Science Museum was established in 1924 and is housed in the oldest-serving building purposely built as a Museum. It was initially called the Lewis Evans collection, in honour of the namesake who donated his scientific instrument collection. Today the Museum holds approximately 20,000 objects relating to the history of science throughout the ages. As well as the vast collection of scientific instruments, the Museum has manuscripts, photos and papers relating to the use and study of these instruments. You can visit the Museum website here: https://www.oumnh.ox.ac.uk/.

A virtual visit

Use the resources below to tour around the Museum – first take a look at some of the Museum highlights, which have been chosen by the Museum Director. Then use the 3D tour to look around the Museum and see if you can spot some of the highlights. Particularly, look out for the original penicillin culture and specimen, and a blackboard used by Albert Einstein.

Understanding our universe through instruments

The Armillary Sphere and Orrery are two instruments which were used to examine the position of Earth in the universe. One is based on a geocentric (Earth-centred) model, while the other is based on a heliocentric (Sun-centred) model. Click on the links and watch the videos to see these scientific instruments in action (information from the videos is also written on each page). Then, answer the following questions:

  • Which instrument is based on a geocentric model of the universe?
  • Which instrument is based on a heliocentric model of the universe?
  • What other differences can you find between the two instruments?

Related videos

Oxford Sparks create short (2-3 minute) animations which talk about science research questions. The videos below are related to developing technology in science, the importance of which is demonstrated within the History of Science Museum. Each video is provided as a link, with the science subjects most relevant to it in brackets.

The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy of the UK. They offer research grants to many UK scientists, and promote excellence in science research and learning. They host an annual exhibition called ‘Summer Science’, and this year this exhibition was hosted digitally. You may be interested in looking at their programme here.

The History of science Museum contains examples of cutting edge science technologies throughout history. Two of The Royal Society’s Summer School videos, related to modern technologies in science, are shown below. Learn how science technology has helps us analyse the air around us, and how we can extrapolate using AI technologies.

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