The Science Museum is to create a new research centre at its South Kensington site. The centre will provide a world-class environment for academic research and a greater connection between the museum’s objects and its library and archive collections.
Bringing together the museum’s thriving Research and Public History Department and access to its library and archive collections, the research centre will open in the autumn of 2015. It aims to increase the use and understanding of these outstanding collections by academics and lay researchers as well as providing a welcoming, contemporary and light-filled environment with a mix of offices, a quiet reading area and open shelving for printed material.
The research centre will replace the Science Museum Library, scheduled to close on 3 February, which is situated on Imperial College London’s South Kensington Campus. The move follows an agreement between the two institutions that will free up the current space for the College to use for its own activities while paving the way for the development of the new research centre.
Heather Mayfield, Deputy Director of the Science Museum, said: “We are taking this opportunity to create a vibrant research centre that reflects our renewed focus on academic excellence and collaborative research, which better meets the needs of both researchers and other museum visitors and is sustainable in the current economic climate. We recognise that the closure of the library will be inconvenient for some researchers but I hope they will bear with us in the unavoidable period before the opening of our fabulous research centre.”
The research centre will be open to the public as well as to university, special interest and enthusiasts’ groups. It was also host Research Fellows and Associates, students and staff on research secondments.
The changes reflect the Science Museum Group’s renewed focus on research, which has seen the introduction of support for 24 collaborative doctoral students, the creation of a new e-journal which will launch in March, and several funded research projects into the history of science and technology.
Visitors to the research centre will have access to a curated core collection of heavily-used academic and popular books and journals for the history, biography and social aspects of physical science, technology and medicine. This will be constantly refreshed through the supply of additional material from the museum’s Wroughton reserve collections, as projects and researchers require.
A new digital library management system will give visitors access to the library and archive catalogues, the library’s ebooks, ejournals, databases and web pages as well as to the museum’s collections and image databases and other valuable resources including the digitised Babbage archive.
Simon Harding-Roots, Imperial’s Chief Operations Officer, said: “I’m very pleased that, by working closely with the Science Museum, we have a plan for the future that works for both partners. On our South Kensington Campus space is at a premium, so freeing some up through the new arrangement will be incredibly helpful for our teaching and research activities. We look forward to working closely with the Science Museum, and its new research centre, in the years to come.”
Heather Mayfield added: “Our relationship with Imperial College has been, and will remain, one of our closest partnerships. Just last week we had half a dozen representatives of the university taking part in an event at the Dana Centre and Imperial students have been doing exams within the Science Museum. We are very grateful for their support which will help us to deliver our new research centre.”
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Notes to Editors
About the Science Museum
As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk