Churchill’s Scientists: An Exhibition at The Science Museum

posted in: Blog, London | 32

By Jess:

Over the weekend, I had a lovely time visiting the “Churchill’s Scientists” exhibition with my cousin. I hadn’t been to the Science Museum since August 2013, when we watched “The Energy Show”. Therefore, I was really excited to go back and learn about Churchill’s involvement with science during the war.

D150225Churchill was the first UK prime minister to have a scientific adviser but few people are aware of his passion for the topic. This new exhibition aims to educate the public on the fascinating scientific developments that took place during his career.

As soon as we arrived, my cousin and I decided to go straight into the exhibition. We were greeted by a large sculpture of Churchill’s head, and read columns written by him in newspapers. I was excited by essentially the world’s first “onesie”, a velvet green siren suit worn by Churchill during air raids. There was even a picture of him wearing it!

It was intriguing to learn about the development of atomic bombs, and we watched a film of Britain’s first ones ever going off. We learnt that they decided to place it on an island off Australia in 1952, and even saw the high-speed camera that filmed the first milliseconds of the detonation of the bomb.

The camera that captured the detonation of Britain's first atomic bomb.
The camera that captured the detonation of Britain’s first atomic bomb.

A large section of the exhibition was devoted to radar. I wish that I had known something about this before the day because I got slightly confused. By the end, I knew that radar is the sending out of radio waves which are reflected off the object back to the source, but I was still baffled as to how this could translate into a visual display for humans to use. We watched old introductory videos which were really cool, and looked at different maps and pieces of equipment, including the original radar receiver used by Robert Watson-Watt in an experiment to prove that radar works.

I absolutely loved seeing the cigar Churchill smoked on winning the election in 1951. He left it on the table after discovering his victory and it was never thrown away. It was brilliant to actually see Churchill smoking the cigar on film.

A molecular model of Penicillin by Dorothy Hodgkin in 1945.
A molecular model of Penicillin by Dorothy Hodgkin in 1945.

Although those were the highlights of the exhibition, I enjoyed everything, such as learning about the development of penicillin and the creation of a ration system that cut down on food consumption while ensuring the nation was still healthy.

The whole exhibition was really engrossing and I learnt a lot. It was slightly complicated in places, but the majority was fine for someone my age (13). We saw so many incredible objects, and I loved seeing so many amazing films. I would definitely recommend a visit to the exhibition and the rest of the museum as it is free and there is a lot to see and do.

All photos are courtesy of The Science Museum

More exhibitions that I’ve been to and loved:

The Sherlock Holmes Exhibition at The Museum of London

A Visit To Kenwood House


32 Responses

    • Jess

      I was interested by how Churchill did not care about the money used for scientific developments, only the outcomes.

  1. Mellissa Williams

    The Science Museum is such a brilliant museum and so interactive too. I think my father in law and husband would love this exhibition especially. I bet this exhibition brings World War 2 history to life for school children.

    • Jess

      You’re welcome! It was something that I wouldn’t normally go to, but I still really enjoyed it.

  2. Rachel

    This sounds fascinating, I read a piece in the local paper but hadn’t realised the exhibit was on already x

  3. Melody Pittman

    Looks like an educational and fun exhibition. I, too, love all the cigar smoking photos of Winston. We loved him so much that our English Bulldog was named Elvis Winston Churchill Pittman. 😉 And yes, we photographed him with a cigar in his mouth as well.

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