History meets science in the permanent exhibition ‘The making the Modern World’ in the Science Museum which showcases memorabilia from the last 250 years that have impacted our lives. Objects on display range from the oldest steam locomotive from 1814, the V2 rocket from 1945 and the EMI Brain Scanner from 1971.
While the inventions themselves marked exciting breakthroughs, the displays didn’t evoke a similar sense of spark or creativity.
The layout was one issue that impeded the exhibition. Upon entering, your eye is immediately drawn to the metal airplane hanging in the rafters, the row of stacked antique cars and the impressive railway machinery. Quickly, however, the vast number of objects on display in all three sections becomes overwhelming.
Many of the items showcased were fascinating, particularly the 1820’s mail coach, the Tucker Sno-Cat that crossed Antarctica in 1955 and the DNA model, but these highlights became lost in a room crammed with objects. All items in the side sections such as tea-sets and hammers are packed together behind glass cabinets mimicking a junk sale stand.
Another issue is that it lacked interactivity. So much of science is about investigating but the public aren’t able to interact with the displays. There was a lot of scope to make it dynamic such as having a mock x-ray machine to x-ray your hand rather than just looking at an x-ray picture. Video footage of recent inventions would also work. There was an app available that was meant to make the displays livelier but it had to be paid for.
The exhibition would have benefitted from more movement and sound to generate the wonder of these new inventions. As everything was stationary, it was hard to get the impression of advancing progress. A child’s train tracks traversing the hall, noise from a rocket taking off or the sound of horns honking from the Ford model T car could have helped captured the dizzying excitement at the time of all this change.