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Guide to Collections Relating to the History of Artificial Internal Organs


Science Museum of London


Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW 7 2DD


+ 44 171 938 8000

Fax Number

+ 44 20 7942 4302


Contact Person

Dr. Ghislaine Lawrence, Director


Access and Services

The museum is open Monday-Sunday, 10:00-18:00.


The origins of the Science Museum lie in the nineteenth-century movement to improve scientific and technical education. Prince Albert was a leading figure in this movement, and he was primarily responsible for the Great Exhibition of 1851 to promote the achievements of science and technology. The profits of the hugely successful Exhibition were used to purchase land in South Kensington to establish institutions devoted to the promotion and improvement of industrial technology. At the same time, the Government set up a Science & Art Department which established the South Kensington Museum in 1857, from which the Science Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum have developed. The objects on display in the South Kensington Museum were drawn from various sources including the Great Exhibition. Most were art objects, but the 'science collections', as they were known, included models, apparatus, examples of materials, books and educational resources. The collections were boosted by an international exhibition in 1876 of scientific instruments. In 1884 the Patent Museum passed on its stock of patent models to the science collections, including priceless objects such as Stephenson's 'Rocket' and Arkwright's original textile machinery. The arts and science collections gradually assumed their own identities to the extent that the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum were formally separated in 1909. A new building to house the Science Museum was formally opened by King George V in 1928. The Museum continued to expand its premises and its collections. In the early 1980s, objects from the Wellcome collection were placed on permanent display.



Science Museum Collections, antiquity to present day

Collection ID


Over 300,000 objects

Biographical Note

In 1976 the Science Museum acquired the valuable Wellcome Collection of over 125,000 objects.

Collection Description

The Science Museum has over 300,000 objects in its care, covering the entire history of western science, technology and medicine. It has been uniquely placed to acquire objects recording the Industrial Revolution, and now holds unrivalled collections in this area. Medical artefacts from all periods and cultures also form an important part of its holdings. The Wellcome Collection spans the history and practice of medicine from the ancient Greeks to present-day techniques, and is continually updated to map developments in biochemistry and genetics.

Finding Aid




Related Material

The Science Museum Library holds an outstanding collection of secondary works on the history of science, technology and medicine in many languages, backed up by substantial holdings of older, classic texts, long runs of scientific journals, significant rare materials and archives. Although primarily a research library, based in the Imperial College campus, it is open to the general public for reference. Readers worldwide can make use of its information and photocopy services by telephone, fax, post and e-mail.