Blythe House

The former headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank, Blythe House is now used a store for a large part of our collections.

The Science Museum galleries are stuffed with over 15,000 objects, however more than 170,000 more of our objects are hidden away in Blythe House. Many of these have never been on public display.

The massive labyrinth of storerooms at Blythe House is home to everything from beautifully crafted telescopes and early examples of operating tables to Stone Age tools and freeze-dried genetically modified animals.

The basement and the majority of rooms on the ground floor are occupied by objects from the collections of the Wellcome Trust, which are artefacts of the history of medicine. The ground floor also houses part of our pictorial collections and then the remaining four floors hold the rest of the objects, arranged by collection.

There are over 90 rooms in total dedicated to holding our objects, from the very small to the very large.

Also at Blythe House is a conservation laboratory, where our conservators work across a range of objects to preserve their condition. We also have a photographic studio, where objects are photographed for our records and publications. There's also a quarantine area (where incoming objects are checked before being transferred to the main rooms) and a research room.

History

Blythe House was originally built to be the headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank. This Government-owned bank was set up to provide a way of generating public investment and providing a way for the ordinary person to save some money.

The large, multi-floored building was at one point home to 7,000 clerks, who worked in gender-seperated areas to process savings transactions. The Blythe House address is famous from having been printed inside millions of saving account passbooks, some of which are still occassionally sent to us (we do, of course, forward them on to right people). For the past few decades, the Science Museum, British Museum, and Victoria & Albert Museum have shared the use of the building as a place to store reserve collections of small and medium sized objects.

With the buildings blacked out to help preserve the objects, the building is now a dark and brooding space filled floor to ceiling with thousands of weird and wonderful things that most people will never see.