The History of Science Museum houses an unrivalled collection of early scientific instruments in the world’s oldest surviving purpose-built museum building. The museum’s collections of astrolabes and sundials are the largest in the world and include instruments once owned by Queen Elizabeth I, Cardinal Wolsey, and Nostradamus. The Islamic world is particularly strongly represented, from the 9th to the 19th century. Other highlights include the Marconi collection, the Einstein blackboard, some of the earliest experimental photographs and collections telling the story of the development of antibiotic medicines.
As well as its permanent displays, an ambitious series of temporary exhibitions has established an international reputation for scholarship and the experimental and idiosyncratic: the world’s first museum exhibition of Steampunk attracted global lenders and visitors. For those unable to visit Oxford, online versions of the exhibitions are available. The museum has a core commitment to digital access: its collections database has been fully available online since 1997.