The Whipple Museum of the History of Science most commonly known as the Cambridge Science History Museum has reopened after a ten month refit. The Whipple Museum of the History of Science holds a collection of scientific instruments, apparatus, models, kits, prints, diagrams, photographs, rare books and catalogues. The museum also houses Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica and Christiaan Huygens’s Horologium Oscillatorium which provides details on the invention of the pendulum clock. If it is related to science, you name it and they’ve got it! The museum also holds an array of antiques like a collection of calculators, a giant model frog, a unique 360-degree view of their wide range of globes, the microscope used by Charles Darwin and a six-planet “grand orrery” – a model of the solar system – dating from as long as about 1750. Collection manager Claire Wallace at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge described it as a “magical space”.
The museum’s main hall was originally constructed as the first free school of Cambridge in 1618. In the nineteenth century, the building housed the Fitzwilliam Museum’s collection, before it was sold to the University of Cambridge in 1890. Owning to the long history of the building, the original features need a little maintenance from time to time. Its distinctive ceiling presents ornate roof-truces, yet the frames of the skylights had become rotten and reports suggest they would have over a period of time weakened the entire structure. The flooring, lighting and windows also long demanded a replacement overdue. This in turn led to a major project which demanded a game of Tetris on a vast scale, in order to move all of the museum objects between galleries.
The renovation is now in its final stages, with new flooring currently being laid in the museum’s side galleries, and the exhibits are being reassembled in the main hall. The main gallery, in particular, is a spectacular, magical space and it is a delight to be able to share it again with the general public.