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Science Museum marks the Information Age with major new gallery

London's Science Museum last week announced details of a ground-breaking new gallery, the largest exhibition space in the building, dedicated to the Information Age and celebrating information and communication technologies (ICT).

The £15.6m gallery will be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with contributions from BT, ARM and Google. It will open in September 2014. 

Sophisticated interactive displays will reveal personal stories about how our lives have been transformed by communication innovations over the last 200 years. Hundreds of unique objects from the Science Museum’s world class collections, will be on display, many for the first time. Rare exhibits will include the extremely sensitive instruments which detected the first transatlantic telegraph messages in 1858, the BBC’s first radio transmitter 2LO, and a BESM-6, the only Russian supercomputer in a museum collection in the West. One of the most spectacular objects on display will be the monumental Rugby Radio Station tuning coil. Donated to the Science Museum by BT, this huge coil was once part of the most powerful radio transmitter in the world. 

Divided into six zones (Networks), Information Age will focus on important transformative events within the development of ICT, from the dramatic stories behind the growth of the worldwide telegraph network in the 19th century, to the influence of mobile phones on our lives today. Visitors will uncover stories about the birth of British broadcasting and learn about pioneering achievements in the development of the telephone. Further Networks explore the role of satellites in global communications infrastructure and the creation of a new age where information can be found and shared at will through the World Wide Web.

Innovative public participation projects have uncovered unique personal stories that will help shape development of the gallery and bring each of the six Networks to life. Looking back at the development of telephony during the 20th century, Science Museum researchers have worked with women who operated the last manual telephone exchange at Enfield, London, to record oral histories about their experiences. Meanwhile, demonstrating the far reaching impact and diverse usage of mobile communications across the world today, Cameroonian communities in both Cameroon and the UK have taken part in workshops to develop exhibition content.

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, said, “Breakthroughs in communication and information technology have dramatically transformed the way we live and connect.  Information Age will bring these innovations to life through the eyes of those who invented, operated and were affected by each new wave of technology. This is a landmark project for the Science Museum and we are grateful to all our funders for making it possible.”



2 people have had something to say so far

I'm astonished that this doesn't mention the UK's role in inventing IT, such as the very first stored-program computer (Manchester 1948), the first computer with integral I/O (Cambridge), the first commercial software (LEO), the floppy disk (Birkbeck), virtual memory (Manchester) etc etc.
Posted on 13/05/13 09:49.

Having worked with the Museum to support the gallery I can say that they will be covering some of the early computing developments in Britain, including displaying parts of EDSAC, LEO, Manchester Mark 1 and Pilot ACE.

They will hopefully be releasing more information on the exhibits and content as time goes on.
Posted on 30/05/13 12:19 in reply to Martyn Thomas.

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