Birmingham is one Europe’s leading industrial cities and its diverse manufacturing enterprises played a significant part in the early Industrial Revolution. Thinktank is the city’s museum of science and industry, which was established in 1951 and moved to the present site in 2001. The collections have been made since the nineteenth century and span 250 years, covering transport, mechanical engineering, instrumentation, gun-making, clockmaking, car manufacturing and computing among other fields. The museum also holds natural science collections and examines environmental issues.
One reason for the city’s reputation as the ‘workshop of the world’ was the innovative Boulton and Watt engineering company. The museum features many items made by Boulton and Watt, including the Smethwick pumping engine of 1779 - the oldest working steam engine in the world. Key objects include other stationary steam engines, William Murdock’s model for his steam carriage of 1784, locomotives and motor cars. An interactive gallery examines the science behind manufacturing, from raw materials to finished products. Another display shows the development of the Spitfire fighter plane in Birmingham during the Second World War. There is also an outdoor ‘science garden’ and a planetarium.