Introducing the Science and Technology collection

Introducing the Science and Technology collection


I think what inspires
me about the collection is the way that it
demonstrates ingenuity, the way that people
have solved problems. How can we travel
faster than we can walk? How can we speak
and hear further than we can shout and listen? Those kinds of things. So amazing examples of
ingenuity to problems which really affect the
quality of everybody’s life. The collection is divided
into four main sections, is the way we manage
it in a museum. Science, technology,
transport, and communications. But another way of
looking at it is to say we do the history and
current practice of science and technology. I’m going to choose
two highlights for me. The oldest is the Boulton
and Watt beam engine of 1786, which was designed by
the great Scottish scientist and engineer James Watt. And our engine was actually
built and delivered to London, where it worked in a brewery. Now, the steam engine is an
incredibly important item which really changed industry,
changed people’s lives in the 19th and 20th centuries. So a really, really
key life-changer. And the other life-changer,
but on a smaller scale, would be some prosthetic limbs. We’ve got wonderful collections
of prosthetic limbs. Artificial arms which have
been developed over the last 50 years, which are an
amazing fusion, connection between people and engineering. The collections date from the
mid 19th century, the 1850s, when we were established,
although we do have some older historical
material we’ve collected since. And we’ve been collecting
ever since then contemporary material. And if you collect contemporary
material, for long enough, it becomes historical. My favorite object? That’s a really hard question. We have tens of
thousands of objects. But I’m going to pick one of
the fantastic working models that we have in the collections. Now, the museum
started to build models when it didn’t have space to
bring in full-size machinery. And the model I
like particularly is an 1880s express
locomotive, one from one of the great Scottish
railway companies. And the model was created to
perfect scale in our workshops in the 1880s. Every nut, bolt, rivet,
tiny piece of iron and steel and brass and wood,
created to perfect scale to show how steam engines
were made and how they worked.