The fascinating world of science
If your visit in London is purely academic or you simply want to understand better the world that we live in, you have the opportunity to go to some of the most interesting places in the United Kingdom. In this article you can read about a complex and awarded museum and a precise and known Observatory.
Let us begin with the famous Science Museum. Its history goes back to 1851, when the Great Exhibition was held at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. Its huge success led to the building of the South Kensington Museum which opened its gates in the year 1857. The architecture was recognized as being quite ugly and the main collections revolved around industrial and decorative arts, adding daily new models and gradually transforming into the great scientific collection that is internationally known nowadays. The Library Museum appeared around 1883 and the name Science Museum became official two years later. Since then, many important events took place during its 150 years of existence, such as: the Children’s Gallery (1931), the Centre Block galleries (1963), the Welcome collections of the history of medicine (1976), Science and Technology in Islam (1976), Exploration (1977), Science in India (1982), Launch Pad (1986 and 2007), Making the Modern World gallery (2000).
The Science Museum keeps pace with the technological, industrial and scientific development in the world and shows new collections and galleries as often as possible. This is one of the main reasons for which it received an impressive number of awards: MUSE Awards and Design Week awards in 2011, Theme Parks and Visitor Attraction Awards, Visit London Awards and Rough Guide to Accessible Britain Awards in 2010, Enjoy England Awards for Excellence in 2009, Visit London Awards in 2008 and many other important distinctions. Even statistically speaking, its significance is proven by the 3 million visitors per year, 31% of which are traveling from overseas and 94% promised to come see it again and spread the word.
If you plan on visiting the Science Museum soon, here are some of the things that will most definitely catch your attention: archive collections (Apollo 11 Flight Plan signed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Letters from Sir Humphry Davy, Charles Babbage’s notes and drawings recalculating engines, etc.), original printed works (Rare Books collection – over 5000 books, International Exhibitions – around 1300 publications, Twentieth century books – more than 75000 academic books, etc.), histories and biographies, digital collections (electronic journals, The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, etc.). All the collections sum up to 300000 objects, some dated since the 1700’s. They are held in two distinct storages. The Big Object storage is situated in Wroughton and the Small Object storage can be found in West London, at the Blythe House.
Another place that you should visit at least once in a lifetime is the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, known for its important contribution to the development of astronomy and navigation. Its foundation started in 1675 and it was commanded by King Charles II. The cost of the construction was of £520 and the design was made by Sir Christopher Wren. The British people used it for a long time as a tool of measurement. In 1833 a time ball was installed in the observatory, to indicate 13.00 o’clock GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) in winter and BST during the summer time. Another important event occurred in the year 1894, when a bomb was detonated in the building. This incident even inspired the great author Joseph Conrad to use it in his known novel entitled The Secret Agent. Nowadays, for a ticket that fluctuates from 7.50 pounds to 10.00 pounds (children’s entrance is free) you can go into the museum with an impressive collection of astronomical and navigational instruments, admire the horological artifacts or visit the magical Peter Harrison Planetarium.
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