The History of Science Museum Oxford (also known as the Museum of the History of Science) on Broad Street houses an unrivalled collection of historic scientific instruments in the world’s oldest surviving purpose-built museum building, the original Ashmolean, built in 1683 (next to the Sheldonian Theatre on Broad Street). It is both a department of the University of Oxford and an active public museum.
Approximately 20,000 objects cover almost all aspects of the history of science, from antiquity to the early 1900s. Particular strengths include the collections of astrolabes, sundials and early mathematical instruments, together with apparatus associated with chemistry, medicine, and communications. In addition, the Museum possesses a unique reference library for the study of the history of scientific instruments that includes manuscripts, prints and early photographic material.
The Museum was established in 1924 as the Lewis Evans Collection and opened to the public one year later. Robert Gunther and Lewis Evans were the driving forces behind the Museum’s creation. Evans donated his scientific instrument collection and Gunter, a scientist, campaigned for their display.
The museum is one of the four University museums (along with the Ashmolean, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum). These four museums form part of the group GLAM (Gardens, Libraries and Museums) together with the Bodleian Libraries and Botanic Gardens and Harcourt Arboretum.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Last admission is at 4.45 pm
Entry is free
The Entrance Gallery houses the reception and shop, as well as items relating to the history of the Museum, the Founding Collections and 19th-century collections from the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Microscopical Society.
The main Basement Gallery displays chemical, physical and medical items, along with Einstein’s blackboard and Marconi’s wireless collection. The basement also holds the Special Exhibition Gallery, in which there are usually two temporary exhibitions each year.
Explore mathematical instruments from different time periods, and the Museum’s world-class collection of Islamic scientific instruments.