Exhibits in Making the Modern World

Our history is embedded in the objects that we have invented, made and used. The Making the Modern World gallery displays a series of exceptional objects which mark new departures in technology and science – the events that have framed our world.

You’ll find such iconic items as Stephenson's original Rocket locomotive, Babbage's Difference Engine No. 1 and Crick and Watson's DNA model. These objects and many others are laid out in a chronological sequence that, in effect, comprises a cultural history of industrialisation from 1750 to the present day.

Alongside this central progression you’ll also find a series of historical studies which act as a comment on each age.

Another sequence of showcases looks at technology in everyday life, from 1750 to the present day. These displays use a large selection of objects drawn from right across the Museum's collections.

A fourth strand of the gallery, along a raised walkway, offers a rich display of models running in step with the main display. Made for a variety of uses, these are, in themselves, historic artefacts of the finest quality.

Now you can learn more about some of the iconic objects in the Making of the Modern World gallery with our new augmented reality app. Renowned TV presenter and science enthusiast James May tells brings to life the fascinating stories behind the Puffing Billy, Model T Ford, Rolls Royce Merlin engine and others. Find out more or purchase the app from the App Store or from Google Play.

On display

Remains of Stephenson's 'Rocket' (1829) on display, 2001
Rocket marks one of the key advances in railway technology.
Raleigh Chopper bicycle MK 2, 1978

The 'Chopper' children's bicycle.

Apollo 10 Command Module, 1969

The capsule that took three astronauts around the Moon in 1969.

Babbage's Difference Engine No. 1 (Trial Portion), 1832

Trial portion of the Difference Engine, the first known automatic calculator.

Bowl from Hiroshima, Japan, 1945.

Porcelain bowl, retrieved from Hiroshima after the atomic bomb explosion, August 1945

First prototype of the 'Clock of the Long Now', 1999

A prototype for a clock mechanism intended to keep time for 10,000 years.