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The London Science Museums
The roots of the London Science Museum can be found in the Great Exhibition of 1851. Sponsored by Queen Victoria and organized by the husband Prince Albert, London hosted the World’s Fair that year under the title of the Great Exhibition, and Brits considered it an opportunity not only for innovators around the world to display their work, but for England to cement its reputation as the most innovative city in the world.
The Great Exhibition took place in the Crystal Palace, a magnificent glass domed building that was erected temporarily in Hyde Park. It was designed by famed architect Joseph Paxton. At the time, the event was highly controversial. The conservative elite in England feared that with six million visitors, the event may turn into a revolutionary mob. Karl Marx called it a perfect example of the “capitalist fetishism of material commodities.” Nowadays, the Crystal Palace and the Great Exhibition are a symbol of British innovation during the Victorian age, and Brits look back on it with pride in their people and country.
The London Science Museum is lauded for its “object-rich” exhibitions and utilizing physical manifestations of modern-day and historical innovations to illustrate the evolution of world-wide innovation.
A number of permanent exhibitions are very popular. “Making the Modern World” is an exhibition of machines and inventions that have made our modern world. Objects include Stephenson’s original locomotive, the capsule that took astronauts to the moon in 1969, and Crick & Watson’s original DNA model.
“Who am I” is a considerably more abstract exhibition that explores what makes humans unique from other species. Exhibits include information on DNA, self-identity, mortality, and consciousness. Visitors are engaged through film and audio stations.
“Flight” is an exhibit devoted to the science and innovation of flight. Exhibits span from far-off flight dreams of the Renaissance to the commercial planes of the modern day. Included is the plane of Amy Johnson used for the first flight from England to Australia, allied planes from WWII, and the Supermarine S6B racing seaplane.
The London Science Museum is also home to a state of the art IMAX theatre. The theatre hosts IMAX films on topics ranging from environment and animals, to space exploration and animated films. The entrance fee for an IMAX show is 10 pounds for adults and 8 pounds for children and seniors with great deals for family ticket packages. Reference the museum website for up to date fees as prices are subject to change.
Another special addition to the London Science Museum is the extremely popular flight simulator. This machine is a pod which seats two passengers at a time. Passengers buckle up and the pod spins and jostles, as well as giving the passengers a great simulated view of a takeoff on a screen inside the pod. Tickets may be purchased for a single ride or a package of multiple rides.
Ticketing & Hours of Operation
The London Science Museum is open every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm with occasional extended hours during school holidays. Note that the last admission is at 5:15. There is no entrance fee to visit the permanent exhibitions of the museum, but certain charges apply for the IMAX theatre, flight simulator, special, temporary exhibitions.
The London Science Museum is located in the central London just south of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. It is easily accessible via the London underground tube network. Simply take the Circle line, District line, or Piccadilly line to the South Kensington stop to arrive a short ten minute walk to the entrance of the museum.