Inspire 9 & 10 – The History of Science Museum

About The History of Science Museum:

Built in 1683, The History of Science Museum is the world’s oldest remaining purpose-built museum. Consisting of over 18,000 artefacts, the collection displays scientific instruments from ancient times to the present day. Notably, the museum holds a blackboard used by Einstein upon his 1931 visit to Oxford, as well as pioneering early 20th century radio technology, and historical timekeeping instruments.

Activity 1 – ‘The Heartbeat of the City’ Exhibition:

This exhibition highlights various watches and time-keeping mechanisms. Whilst today timekeeping is largely taken for granted, it plays an integral role in the management of our daily activities. This exhibit explores devices which facilitated pioneering exploits such as early air navigation, as well as unorthodox Victorian attempts to avoid disease. You can watch a series of 30-minute webinars exploring different concepts of time, as well as its significance  to military operations and much more…

Activity 2 – ‘Precious and Rare: Islamic Metalwork from The Courtauld’

This exhibition explores six centuries of Islamic skills and craft, highlighting its reciprocal influence on Western culture and design. By exploring various themes, the exhibition examines the significant role that mathematics plays in the creation of Islamic patterns. In doing so, it also highlights how factors such as migration and trade have forged historic ties between Western and Islamic culture. This often-overlooked relationship has meaningful consequences for the craftsmanship of each culture, with design in both cultures influenced by the artistic impressions of the other. The museum has also held community conversations, collecting personal stories behind each Islamic exhibit to fully comprehend its significance and heritage.

Activity 3 – Highlights: History of Science Museum

This webpage documents some of the highlights of the museum’s collection. Each highlighted object has its own profile, which can be clicked upon for more detail. Here, you can discover more about the function, context, and history of each object.


Activity 1 explores various timekeeping mechanisms and the key role they have played in orchestrating significant historical events. These artifacts reiterate the fact that we often take time for granted and ignore the role it plays in structuring our activities.

Consider your daily routine and reflect upon the following:

  • List ways in which you rely upon clocks, alarms and timers for set duration tasks each day.
  • The working day and school hours are structured in relation to sunrise and sunset (9am-5pm & 8.30-3pm). Do you think this is the most effective way to sustain work and learning, or should we be more flexible in the time we assign to such practices?
  • How has digital communication changed the way we conceive time and space?
  • How time efficient are you on social media? Do you go straight to your intended destination, or get lost in feed distractions?