CPD25 organised a visit to the Dana Research Centre and Library at the Science Museum in London last week as part of their ongoing events program. The event began with the acting head of Library and Archives, Nick Wyatt, giving an insight to the long and eventful history of the Science museum’s library and archive. Founded in 1883, he highlighted the Library’s initial independence, the joining with Imperial, it’s almost closure and demise to last year’s triumphant opening of the Dana Research Centre. He explained how the library was used during WW2 in a secret operation reprinting German scientific papers that had been covertly microfilmed in enemy territory and how the old reading room had been used in the filming of ‘The Ipcress File’ with Michael Caine. We discovered that the majority of the collection was stored in Wroughton, a world war airfield where books, journals, British patents, trade literature, maps and archives of individuals (like Barnes Wallace of ‘bouncing bomb’ fame) and organizations (such as Pearsons) could be accessed.
Following Nick’s talk we were given a tour and introduced to the tidiest and quietest library that I’ve ever seen. The window running along one side of the building was quite spectacular. The daylight was filtered through two layers of punched out patterns that cast shadows across the seating area like dappled sunlight under a tree. It was a quiet and reflective place to study. The Librarian showed recent acquisitions including a stunning book of constellation maps bought at auction. Curators use this Library to research and source material for exhibitions at the Science Museum but it is also open to the public from Monday to Friday (10am-5pm) and is well worth a visit.