The Science Museum on Exhibition Road, Kensington, London, is part of the National Museum of Science and Industry. The museum is a major London tourist attraction.
A museum was founded in 1857 under Bennett Woodcroft from the collection of the Royal Society of Arts and surplus items from the Great Exhibition. It was initially part of the South Kensington Museum, together with what is now the Victoria and Albert Museum, but was separated and became the Museum of Patents in 1858, the Patent Office Museum in 1863. This museum contained many of the most famous exhibits of what is now the Science Museum. The Science Museum was founded in 1892 and the Patent Office Museum was merged into it in 1909.
The Science Museum now holds a collection of over 300,000 items, including such famous items as Stephenson's Rocket, Puffing Billy (another early locomotive), the first jet engine, Francis Crick's model of DNA, some of the earliest remaining steam engines, a working example of Charles Babbage's Difference engine, and the first prototype of the 10,000-year Clock of the Long Now. It also contains hundreds of interactive exhibits. A recent addition is the IMAX Theatre showing science and nature documentaries, some of them in 3-D. Entrance has been free since December 1, 2001.
The Science Museum has a dedicated library, and until the 1960s was Britain's National Library for Science, Medicine and Technology. It holds runs of periodicals, early books and manuscripts, and is used by scholars world-wide. It has for a number of years been run in conjunction with the Library of Imperial College, but in 2004 the Museum was unable to bear its share of the cost, so options are being discussed for the library's break-up and dispersal. 
The museum is adjacent to the Natural History Museum and used to be connected to it by a public corridor, which is now closed. The closest London Underground station is South Kensington; a subway connects the museums to the station.
Currently (2005/02) the main hall is effectively closed for refurbishment .
Last updated: 05-17-2005 18:01:30