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Museum of the History of Science MAY 2016

The History of Humanity's Quest to Understand the World Around Them

Throughout history, people have sought to understand the world around them. Science has always been a part of us: the practice of taking things apart, putting them together again, to see how they work and to see how they can be made to work better. 

On our constant quest for knowledge we have invented and discovered a parade of instruments, from the compass to the microscope. The strikingly lovely seventeenth-century ‘Old Ashmolean Building’ on Broad Street, Oxford, houses one of the planet’s finest collections of scientific devices from Europe and the Islamic world. Together with a remarkable range of material from the eighteenth century to the present day, these artefacts offer an intriguing insight into ingenuity and creativity, and tell amazing stories of human scientific endeavour in a wider cultural and social context. Centrepieces include the blackboard on which Albert Einstein worked out the theory of relativity, glorious astrolabes, Roman handheld sundials, drawers choc-a-block with bird eggs and an ostentatious microscope designed for King George III.
In the latest addition to the popular Director’s Choice series, Silke Ackermann – the first ever female museum director at the University of Oxford – hand-picks her favourite items and provides an intimate, idiosyncratic guide to a singular collection