Science Museum

Later Expansion

Photograph of King George V opening the Science Museum in 1928

Copyright: Science Museum/SSPL


The East Block, which still today forms the core of the Science Museum, was opened by King George V in 1928. The King and Queen are seen here in the photograph leaving Exhibition Road after the official opening ceremony.

Sir Richard Allison

The architect of the building was the Scotsman Sir Richard Allison (1869-1958). He had used the department store as a model for the inside of the building and the Edwardian office building for the outside (although the exterior does also show some resemblance to Selfridges on Oxford Street).

Allison designed generous circulation spaces, and a roof-lit central hall which serves very well for the display of large engines. He also created open galleries at the sides, lit naturally as was the fashion at the time.

Recent expansion in South Kensington and beyond

The vision of the Science Museum extending all the way from Exhibition Road to Queensgate never materialised. Physical expansion occurred outside of London with the opening of the National Railway Museum in York in 1975, and the National Museum of Photography (now the National Media Museum) in Bradford in 1983. A large former airfield at Wroughton, near Swindon, was acquired in 1979 both for storage and to allow the development of collections of larger full-size objects such as aeroplanes and vehicles.
Finally in 1996 some westward expansion in South Kensington began.

The Wellcome Trust sponsored a new building which was to become the Wellcome Wing. This was opened by HM The Queen in June 2000 and houses exhibitions of present and future science and technology.

More photographs of the Science Museum are available from the Science & Society Picture Library.