The new Dana Research Centre is open to the public as well as to university-based and independent scholars, and to special interest and enthusiasts’ groups. It houses the museum’s thriving Research and Public History Department, with its Research Fellows and Associates, students and staff on research secondments.
Designed by RIBA award-winning practice Coffey Architects, the library provides a space bathed in dappled light and increases access to the museum’s unique collection. The new centre aims to encourage greater use and understanding of the works by academics and lay researchers, in a welcoming, contemporary and light-filled reading room containing more than 6,000 books (with access to the out-housed collection available by pre-ordering).
Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, said: “We are thrilled to be opening the new Dana Research Centre and Library. As well as opening the Centre this year, our commitment to research has also seen us introduce support for 24 collaborative doctoral students, create a new e-journal and support research projects into the history of science and technology.”
Visitors to the new Dana Research Centre and Library will have access to a core collection of heavily-used academic and popular books and journals for the history, biography and social aspects of physical science, technology and medicine.
With more than 500,000 items, the collection includes archives and original works from Newton to Babbage to Einstein:
- Charles Babbage’s notes and drawings on calculating engines
- Apollo 11 Flight Plan signed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin
- A collection of 4,600 rare books and 85 periodicals published before 1800, and rare later works
- 1,278 publications from exhibitions held throughout the world including the Great Exhibition of 1851
- Over 85,000 books and periodicals focussing on the history and social aspects of science, technology and medicine
A new digital library management system will give visitors access to the library and archive catalogues, the library’s e-books, e-journals, databases and web pages as well as to the Museum’s collections and image databases and other valuable resources including the digitised Babbage archive.
The Research Centre and Library is currently home to several funded research projects. For example, the composer and performer Jean-Philippe Calvin has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust to be Composer in Residence as he writes a score for the 1927 film Museums of the New Age, which features the Science Museum in the company of the great European science museums. This project is due to culminate in several performances later in the year.
Barry Murnane is TORCH-Science Museum Research Fellow for 2016; funded by Andrew Mellon Foundation support to the Oxford Humanities Faculty, he is researching 19th century respiratory therapeutics using the Museum’s Wellcome Collection.
Nick Wyatt, Head of Library & Archives, said: “This fantastic new Centre offers free public access to world-class library and archive collections for science and engineering, as well as providing flexible space for the Museum’s doctoral candidates and researchers to work alongside our amazing collection on a day to day basis. We took our inspiration for the design from the gentle dappled light created when reading a book under a tree in the summer, and we hope the new light-filled space will encourage and stimulate future learning.”
Dana Research Centre & Library © Timothy Soar, courtesy of Coffey Architects