Astonishing Science. Spectacular museum.
Visit our new exhibition on alchemy, check out our research guide on family history and follow us on Twitter
We are reducing services at our Wroughton Library and Archives to allow staff to concentrate on collections management and cataloguing in a more efficient and focussed way.
Read our latest newsletter to discover more about our alchemy exhibition and learn how alchemists concealed secret meanings within their books and illustrations.
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The quest for the philosophers’ stone, a substance that transforms base metals into silver and gold, heal sickness, and unlock the mysteries of God and nature was a major preoccupation of the early modern world.
This exhibition displays 22 of the most striking images from the rich collection of the Science Museum’s Library & Archives. Dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, these books and manuscripts reveal the power and intricacy of alchemical art, whilst allowing us to attempt an interpretation of the hidden meanings behind the symbols. At the heart of the exhibition is a newly discovered manuscript: a Ripley scroll. These rare scrolls include some of the most complex and fascinating alchemical imagery in existence.
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In early 2011 we produced a printed guide to Science Museum collections for family historians, Uncovering Your Ancestors. We have distributed copies to family history societies up and down the country and to relevant libraries and archives. The guide draws together relevant resources in the Library, Archives and Museum and is illustrated with examples of personal and business history. Feedback has been very positive, as one family history society said ‘I have been looking through [Uncovering your ancestors] and found [it] most interesting and I am sure so will the other group members. The different areas of family history to research will be most useful to us and some new ideas to uncover as well is always exciting. It looks an interesting place to visit.’ You can now get your own free copy. Just Contact us, and we’ll send you one.
The Library and Archives team have their own Twitter site, Galileo’s Balls. Their regular tweets relate ‘on this day’ events with an item from the Archives. Read about Mrs Benz’s first long-distance automobile trip, a meeting between Lady Lovelace and Charles Babbage, the destruction of the Crystal Palace by fire and the price of dragon’s blood in 1762. Sign up and follow regular tweets at https://twitter.com/GalileosBalls.
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Read about the history of the Science Museum Library in the new book Science for the Nation: perspectives on the History of the Science Museum which was published as part of the Science Museum’s centenary celebrations.