Science Museum review (Mar 2012)
This is out-of-date! I have been here again since I wrote this review
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I have hazy memories of visiting the Science Museum when I was a kid, and pressing every button in the building to see what it did, but I've grown out of that now. I still wanted to press all the buttons, but I was too embarassed to do it because there was about ten billion screaming school kids running around. The only one I pressed all day was the one on the lift.
Then you come to the best bit -- "Exploring Space". They've got a full-size model of the lunar landing module in there, and a life-size replica of the Huygens space probe which landed on Titan. The Apollo rocket looks so flimsy it's a wonder it ever made it to the moon -- the whole thing is covered in gold tin foil and the sheet metal looks about as sturdy as a Kit Kat wrapper. I quite liked the full-size V2 rocket they've got in there too -- like the ones that dropped on London. Did you know that the Nazi V2 was the first object to make it into space? And it took the first photo of the earth from space too -- they've got a copy on show so you can see it. Where would we be without those evil rocket-building Nazis, huh?
At the end of the space section is a little room dedicated to Stephen Hawkings. Apparently this is a special standalone exhibition to celebrate his 60th birthday, but it is tiny! It's not even a room, really, just half a room with three windows. They've got a few of his letters and diagrams about black holes in there, and a cabinet full of Hawkings-related memoribilia (one of which is a model of him on 'The Simpsons' -- that is how desperate it is). I don't know why they bothered doing it, to be honest. Surely they could have put together something better than this?
The next gallery I went into was all about boats. This basically consisted of a billion million cabinets all filled with model ships from the dawn of time to the present day. Some of them were pretty nice and intricate. They had the Nelson's Victory in there, and something that looked like the QE2. I'm not much into boats, but I'm guessing that they had every kind of boat throughout history, even back to the Roman galleys and oar-powered boats of Ancient times. Some of them were pretty huge too -- about ten feet long.
Next up was the computer section. All I remember about that was they had a few of Charles Babbage's old Difference Engines. I zipped through that and onto the medicine section. Yeah, I know what you're thinking... the medicine section? You are probably thinking that it sounds boring as hell but it was actually one of my favourite bits. The thing that made it good wasn't the cabinets full of pills and needles, but the life-size mock-ups of doctors' surgeries throughout the ages. There was probably about twenty of them in total -- all life-size rooms filled with waxwork doctors and patients having their bits fiddled with.
After you've seen all the exhibits you can wile away some time at the movies, because they've got a couple of cinemas in there too. One of them was an IMAX 3D cinema, which I didn't actually visit because they had a silly kids' movie on for under-5s. I'm pretty young looking, but I don't think I could pass for under-5, so I had to give that one a miss. But I did visit the "Legend of Apollo" movie.
Let me sum up the "Legend of Apollo" exhibit in one word for you... it was rubbish! (Okay, so that was three words.) It was only 5 quid and it only lasted for 15 minutes, so you may as well give it a go, but it doesn't live up to the hype. They billed it as a 4D movie. (Is that even possible?) What the hell is 4D, I hear you ask? Well, it turns out that 4D is basically the same as 3D, but with some bubbles and water sprayed in your face.
P.S. They've got a good shop at the Science Museum. It's full of books and gadgets.
[Edit: I've since been back to the Science Museum and discovered a whole new floor which I missed the first time. It's right at the top of the building on the third floor, right underneath the roof. It's a massive hangar like room that seems to extend the whole length of the building, and it's filled with full-size airplanes. Lord knows how they managed to get them in there, because they've got loads! I can't believe I missed it on my first visit because it's one of the best things in the museum. I can't remember the actual names of the planes, but they've got two planes that look like a Spitfire and a Hurricane, a sea plane, and a rich man's Lear Jet type thing. They've also got some old bi-planes and a few wooden and string ones from the early days of flight. It really is quite good.
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