The Science Museum in London holds one of Europe’s greatest collections of artefacts relating to the history of science and industry. A collection of objects from the Great Exhibition of 1851was put on permanent display in South Kensington in 1857, from which, in due course the Science Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum all evolved. The Science Museum had a separate formal identity from 1909, and the principal parts of its present range of buildings were completed in 1928. In 1984 it passed from direct control by government to management by a board of trustees.
Many of the principal exhibits relating to industrial heritage are displayed in a section called Making the Modern World, which includes the steam locomotive Rocket, a range of spinning and carding machines made for Richard Arkwright (1732-92), Henry Maudslay’s (1771-1831) original screw cutting lathe of c 1800, a specimen of steel made by Sir Henry Bessemer (1813-98) in 1860 together with a Bessemer converter of 1866, a Remington sewing machine of 1870, a spinning machine of 1901 for viscose silk, a Bell telephone and terminal panel of 1877, an Avro 504K biplane of 1917 and a Volkswagen Beetle car made in 1965. The Power Hall includes a Newcomen-type engine of 1791, a Boulton & Watt engine of 1788 that once drove machines at the partnership’s Soho Manufactory, a high pressure engine of c 1806 by Richard Trevithick (1771-1833), Sir Charles Parsons’s (1854-1931) steam turbo-generator of 1891 and a colossal mill engine of 1903.
There are many other extensive collections together with a library and picture collections. Launch Pad is an interactive science area, opened in 1986 but since re-displayed.
A reserve collection of small and medium-sized exhibits, held at Blythe House, a former savings bank headquarters in West London, is open to researchers by appointment.
Larger objects are stored at Wroughton, Swindon.