Science Museum


Photograph of the construction of the East Block of the Science Museum in 1915

Copyright: Science Museum/SSPL

By 1910 the need for a new, separate building for the Science Museum was acknowledged by the government and a committee, chaired by Sir Hugh Bell, was set up to begin plans. The Bell Committee made recommendations as to the design and content of the building, and these have influenced the development of the Science Museum ever since.

The committee envisaged a range of buildings all the way from Exhibition Road to Queensgate. In reality only a small proportion of the planned buildings were ever built.

Work began at the east end of the site, with extensions starting only once experience had been gained with the building of the East Block.

The photograph

The East Block was designed by the Office of Works and the architect Sir Richard Allison. Construction work began in 1913 and the photograph shows its progress up to the 10 November 1915.

The view seen here is taken from what is now the Henry Cole Wing of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The beginnings of the large central hall to the Science Museum can be seen in the centre of the photograph, as can T.E. Collcutt’s Imperial Institute, which towers over the site in the background.

The impact of the war

Due to the First World War, progress on the building came to a stop in 1919, by which time it had become an incomplete shell. Work later resumed and the museum was finally opened in 1928.