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Making the Modern World

Chart 250 years of science and technology and discover some of the most iconic items that have shaped our society.

The Making the Modern World gallery presents some of the Museum’s most remarkable objects. Come face-to-face with the Apollo 10 command module, Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 1, Crick and Watson’s DNA model and the first Apple computer.

You’ll also find thought-provoking objects such as penicillin from Fleming’s laboratory, a porcelain bowl salvaged from Hiroshima and a clock that will tell the time for the next 10,000 years.

Visit this exceptional gallery to follow the cultural history of industrialisation from 1750 to the present day.

Planning a school visit? Find out more information about the gallery for educational groups.

Here are some highlight objects in Making the Modern WorldBrowse our online collection for more objects on display in the gallery. If you are visiting to see any of these objects, please contact us in advance to make sure that it will be on display.

Wells Cathedral Clock c.1390

Clock formerly in Wells Cathedral, British, 1392

One of the world’s oldest clock mechanisms, as well as one of our oldest and most cherished exhibits, the Wells Cathedral clock mechanism is currently on display in Making the Modern World. 

Mechanical clocks were first invented in the late 13th century and the survival of the original mechanism from Wells Cathedral, believed to have been made in about 1390 when such machines were still new technology, is remarkable. 

Visitors can witness the clock chiming the quarter hours and striking each hour as it has done over the last 600 years. In addition there will be an explainer on hand to tell you more about the history and workings of the clock every day between 11.00–15.00 (11.00–16.00).

(The Wells Cathedral clock mechanism has been kindly lent to the Science Museum by the Chapter of Wells Cathedral where the clock face resides.)


Barograph Clock by Alexander Cumming acquired with Art Fund support (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation)