The Science Museum Group cares for an astonishingly diverse and internationally significant collection of 7.3 million items from science, technology, engineering, medicine, transport and media.
Together these objects tell the story of our world—from the rise of the Indus Valley civilisation over 3,000 years ago to the microchips powering our connected planet today.
We have embarked on an ambitious project to transform how we care for and share this remarkable collection with the world. This once-in-a-generation project will dramatically improve public access to many thousands of historic items, enabling you to explore more of the collection than ever before.
About the collection
Our collection traces its origin back to the 1851 Great Exhibition. Among the 7.3 million items we now care for there are:
- 140,000 medical items, including the long-term loan of the Wellcome Collection
- 38,000 items relating to railway locomotives, technology and railway life
- 26,000 scientific instruments
- 17,000 items of photographic, cinematographic and televisual technology
- 7,000 artworks
Standout items from our collection include: Alan Turing’s Pilot ACE computer; one of the first models used to represent atoms; Charles Babbage’s drawings and models; Dorothy Hodgkin’s model of penicillin; Helen Sharman’s spacesuit and Tim Peake’s spacecraft; Amy Johnson’s Gipsy Moth aircraft; famous locomotives from Stephenson’s Rocket and Sans Pareil to Mallard and Flying Scotsman and the world’s earliest surviving photographic negative.
You can discover over 300,000 objects, photographs and archive materials on our collection website.
Use the website to:
- Search for a particular object, archive, individual or company;
- Filter your results by date, category or location to narrow your results;
- Find images of objects and archive material in our collection;
- Be surprised with our Google Chrome extension and Random Object Generator
- Use our collection API
Our digitisation programme will continue to enhance existing collection information and add new items from the collection to the website.
To give feedback on our collections website, email us.
Library and archive online catalogues
The following resources are also available online:
- Science Museum Group Archive catalogue
- Science Museum Library catalogue
- National Railway Museum Library catalogue (available on the University of York website)
You can visit objects from the collection at each of our museums:
- On display at the Science Museum
- On display at the Science and Industry Museum
- On display at the National Science and Media Museum
- On display at the National Railway Museum
- On display at Locomotion
If you’re visiting to see a particular object, please email us at least 48 hours in advance of your arrival so that we can ensure it’s on display.
Visit by appointment
You can view objects and archive and library materials which are not on display by appointment.
- Dana Research Centre and Library at the Science Museum in London
- Insight: Collections and Research Centre at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
- Collections Centre at the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester
- Search Engine at the National Railway Museum
- Library and Archive at the National Collections Centre in Wroughton, Wiltshire
Accessing the collection
The Science Museum Group has begun an ambitious project to transform how we care for and share our collection with the world.
During the next five years, over 300,000 objects currently held at Blythe House in London will be studied, photographed, packed and moved into a new building at the National Collections Centre in Wiltshire. This new building will open regularly for public tours, school and research visits from 2023.
Due to this extensive programme of work, access to objects at Blythe House ended in April 2019. Access to objects at the National Collections Centre will not be possible until 2023.
The majority of objects in the Science Museum Group Collection will be digitised as part of this project, with hundreds of new images published online each month.
Throughout this period the Science Museum’s Library and Archive at the National Collections Centre, Search Engine at the National Railway Museum, Insight at the National Science and Media Museum and the Research Centre at the Science and Industry Museum will remain accessible.
Our ambitious project has created opportunities to review the items we hold, enhance our records and digitise a vast part of the collection for the public and researchers to explore on our collection website.
From 2023, the public, researchers and school groups will be able to explore over 80% of the Science Museum Group Collection in its new home at the National Collections Centre in Wiltshire.
Detailed information on how to join a regular public tour, or visit the National Collections Centre as a researcher or school group will be published closer to the time.
Our collection research facilities at the Science and Industry Museum, National Science and Media Museum, and the National Railway Museum remain open.