Oxford Travel

History of Science Museum

History of Science Museum is just a few minutes from Bodleian, next to the Sheldonian Theatre. It is free to visit, but they do accept donations, and they also have pretty interesting things in their gift shop. They don’t have tea rooms, but Bodleian’s tea rooms are on the opposite side, so you can have some refreshments there, as we did.

History of Science Museum

The museum is quite small, when comparing to other museums in Oxford, like the Ashmolean or Pitt Rivers. Despite its size, the items on display are really interesting. It is on three levels, so be prepared to climb quite a few stairs.

Exhibition room at History of Science Museum

This is in the top floor of the museum. On display are astrolabes, calculators, measuring devices, quadrants, and sundials. I’m always impressed by the design and complexity of these devices. Some of the astrolabes are almost 1,000 year old, Arabic, from the 11th century. There are also instruments from India and Europe.
The items are grouped on date, with plenty of items from medieval and early modern periods.

Einstein's board

Einstein's blackboard

This is the Einstein Blackboard. He was invited at Oxford in 1931 to give a series of three lectures on relativity. This blackboard was preserved from the second lecture.


Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, but he was not able to create a drug. A bit later, a team in Oxford created this drug during the Second World War. The team was composed from Florey, an Australian, and his wife, Chain, a Jewish biochemist who fled Germany, Heatley and Abraham, both Englishmen.
The first patients in Oxford were treated in 1941, and after that a mission was sent to the US, so mass production could be made. The drug was made available to the Allied soldiers.
This packaging comes from US, probably made in May 1944.

Room at History of Science Museum

Items on display at History of Science Museum

Microscopes on display at History of Science Museum

The Royal Microscopical Society was founded in 1839. All the microscopes on display are so beautiful, dating from the 19th and 20th century. There is a silver microscope for George III, dating back to 1770. He was well known for his scientific curiosity.

Item in Gift shop

I mentioned the gift shop before. They have funny items, like these cute pens, but also interesting books, from the 30-second collection. I got two books from them, including 30-Second Elements by Eric Scerri which I reviewed on my book blog. I also got another book from the National History Museum in Oxford, from the same series. These are really interesting, so I would recommend them.

History of Science Museum is on Broad St, Oxford, OX1 3AZ.

4 Comment

  1. Oh I love that museum! I love that it’s so small and very quiet, it gives it a very special atmosphere. The microscopes on display are great, and I really enjoyed looking at all the artifacts. Thank you for sharing these pictures!

    Julia x

  2. I love science museums and this one looks interesting. I spy Waldo in one of the display cabinets! (he may be called something else in the UK)

    I would definitely have bought one of those pens. For sure.

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