While our five museums are closed, our collection—and the inspirational stories it contains—remains open to you online.
You can discover inspiring stories of scientific achievement on our websites, delve into our incredible collection online or through videos and 3D models, hear from scientific pioneers, explore fun activities to try at home or simply have fun playing our online games.
We’re kicking off with the online home of our amazing Science Museum Group Collection. We started collecting important items related to science, technology, engineering and medicine over 150 years ago.
Today, the national collection includes some of the first models used to represent atoms; Helen Sharman’s spacesuit and Tim Peake’s spacecraft; famous locomotives Stephenson’s Rocket and Sans Pareil and the earliest surviving photographic negative.
You can discover over 325,000 historic objects, photographs and archive materials through our online collection, from typewriters and trains to magic lantern slides, orreries, surgical tools and even retro videogame cassettes.
Many of these items have only recently been published online, part of an ambitious five-year project to give you unprecedented access to the collection.
So far 88,000 photographs of the collection are online, with more added each month for you to enjoy.
Can’t decide what objects to search for first?
Many of our objects are also available to view virtually as 3D models, like this 19th century jar of leeches.
Or this three-ring Enigma cypher machine (click below to find out how it worked). Enigma machines were designed to create complex coded messages that were almost impossible to crack.
‘How will I get it through the door?’ we hear you ask.
A cup of tea while you explore?
Our curators, archivists and researchers work hard to highlight less-well known objects and tell new stories about the impact of science, technology and medicine on our world.
This year we’re sharing the extraordinary stories behind ordinary objects, from light bulbs to motorways and cups of tea to concrete.
Go to our Objects & Stories pages where you can learn about everything from what Teasmades can tell us about the future to why Manchester became the world’s first industrialised city and what happened when a Hungarian doctor proposed hand-washing to prevent infections in 1847.
Discover why we have Anna Atkins to thank for the word blueprint, learn about the arrival of the railways in Shildon (the original railway town), explore how the Jacquard loom is interwoven with the development of computing, find out why margarine used to be pink, and uncover how the fashion industry owes much of its success to chemistry.
You can hear from our curators themselves as they uncover the stories behind some of their favourite objects, including a chair used by NASA astronauts and a fish used for pregnancy testing, in our Stories from the Stores YouTube series.
Or why not listen along with Sir Ian Blatchford (our director) and Dr Tilly Blyth (principal curator) as they explore twenty fascinating stories of when art and science have inspired each other in The Art of Innovation: From Enlightenment to Dark Matter, a BBC Radio Four series and podcast.
If you are keen to delve even deeper into our collection (and the research about it), you can read the Science Museum Group Journal.
Fun things to try at home
Our learning resources (useful for homeschooling) include fun online games, apps, videos and kitchen experiments to name a few.
Learn the fundamentals of aerodynamics by making different types of planes out of paper, investigate how sounds travel using a coat hanger and string, and discover the perfect way to make instant ice-cream.
Challenge your engineering skills as you design and test your own space rover in Rugged Rovers, spring your way through obstacles and create your own levels to play and share with friends in Launchball, or discover ways in which you use science skills every day in Total Darkness, a choose your own adventure game.
hear from the greatest minds in science
Meanwhile, you can sit back and hear from some of the greatest minds in science in our YouTube and Soundcloud archives.
You can watch a lecture by Professor Stephen Hawking on physics and our universe, hear from astronaut Buzz Aldrin about walking on the Moon and astronaut Tim Peake about life in space (speaking at the Manchester Science Festival), listen to a conversation between will.i.am and Bill Gates about breakthroughs in science, and a talk on AI and music chaired by Jarvis Cocker.
Our online shop remains open as we hope to keep you inspired with our wide range of toys, games, science kits and books.
Before we go, we want to thank our colleagues across the Science Museum Group (curatorial, conservation, photography, registration, documentation, operations, learning, ICT, digital, communication teams and more), without whom all these fascinating things would not exist.
If you’ve got a favourite museum (from the Science Museum Group), try any of the links below to explore further:
Locomotion online stories
You can also keep in touch with our five museums and hear the latest news on upcoming events, exhibitions and the collection through our email newsletters. Click to subscribe to emails from the Science Museum, National Science and Media Museum, Science and Industry Museum, National Railway Museum or Locomotion.