History of Science Museums

Science museum is a museum that exhibits items connected with science and history of science. Although there were exhibits before in form of cabinets of curiosities, first science museum was Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, Spain opened in 1752. Industrial Revolution through national exhibits, whose role was to show marvels and triumphs of industry and science, also gave birth to science museums. National Exhibit in Crystal Palace in 1951 lead to founding of London's Science Museum. In United States museums also originated from collections that were collected by various Natural History Societies. For instance New England Museum of Natural History that opened in Boston in 1864 became “Museum of Science”. In the beginning, science museums had items that were not allowed to be touched. But at the start of the 20th century, Deutsches Museum in Munich changed all that with its idea of an interactive museum of science. It had moving exhibits and visitors were encouraged to interact with them by pushing buttons and pulling levers. Idea of a museum where visitors are not just passive observers but active participants spread from there. In the 1911, Julius Rosenwald, chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Company, visited Deutsches Museum and he liked idea so much that he decided to open something like that in the United States. From that was founded Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry in the period of 1933 and 1940. In Saint Louis in 1959 was founded one more interactive science museum - Museum of Science and Natural History. Interactivity became indispensable ingredient in functioning of science museums around the world.

Museum of Science in Boston

Some of the world’s science museums:

Haus der Musik in Vienna, Austria . Opened in 2000. It is a museum of sound and music and it studies history of music from the beginning to today with high-tech interactive presentations.

Technopolis in Mechelen, Belgium is a science museum with interactive exhibition whose goal is to stimulate biotechnology and micro-electronics in Flanders.

Mendel Museum of Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic . It is founded as a way to promote the legacy of Augustinian abbot G. J. Mendel, who is known primarily for his studies conducted on plants, peas in particular, and because of that is considered father of genetics.

Cité de l'espace in Toulouse, France . Theme park and a science museum opened in 1997. It exhibits full scale models of the Ariane 5 rocket, Mir space station, and Soyuz modules.

Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany . Opened in 1981 it is the largest privately owned museum in Europe. It exhibits: Concorde aircraft, Tupolev Tu-144, Russian Buran space shuttle and the largest permanent Formula One collection.

Oceanographic Museum in Monaco-Ville, Monaco . Founded in 1910 it had a Jacques-Yves Cousteau for a director from 1957 to 1988. It exhibits various species of sea fauna in stuffed form and as skeletons, as well as sea related objects, model ships, tools and weapons. It has a large aquarium in the basement with a wide variety of sea flora and fauna.