Science Museum - Past, Present and Future

This article can also be found in our MASS Media October 2015 Issue 


Past

 


The Science Museum is a major museum on Exhibition Road, in South Kensington, London. It was founded in 1857 and today is one of the city's major tourist attractions, attracting 3.3 million visitors annually. Like other publicly funded national museums in the United Kingdom, the Science Museum does not charge visitors for admission. Temporary exhibitions,  however, may incur an admission fee.

 

The Science Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, formally known as the National Museum of Science and Industry (NMSI).

 

 

The Science Museum Group (SMG), a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, was formed in 2012 and is a collection of British museums, comprising:

 

  • The Science Museum in South Kensington, London

 

  • The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester (added to the SMG in 2012)

 

  • The Science Museum, Wroughton, Wiltshire

 

  • The National Railway Museum in York

 

  • The National Railway Museum at Shildon, Co Durham

 

  • The National Media Museum in Bradford













 

“The upgrade to the new version of ARCHIBUS Web Central was a smooth transition”


The current London Science Museum can trace its roots back to a museum that was founded in 1857 under Bennet Woodcroft from the collection of the Royal Society of Arts and surplus items from the Great Exhibition as part of the South Kensington Museum, together with what is now the Victoria and Albert Museum.

 

It included a collection of machinery which became the Museum of Patents in 1858, and the Patent Office Museum in 1863. This collection contained many of the most famous exhibits of what is now the Science Museum. In 1883, the   contents of the Patent Office Museum were transferred to the South Kensington Museum. In 1885, the Science Collections were renamed the Science Museum and in 1893 a separate director was appointed.

 

The Science Museum now holds a collection of over 300,000 items, across six floors in the 120 year old building, including such famous items as Stephenson’s Rocket, Puffing Billy (the oldest surviving steam locomotive), the first jet engine, a reconstruction of Francis Crick and James Watson's model of DNA, some of the earliest remaining steam engines, a working example of Charles Babbage’s  Difference Engine, the first prototype of the 10,000-year Clock of the Long Now, and documentation of the first typewriter.

 

The Science Museum had a dedicated library for a number of years, run in conjunction with the Library of Imperial College, but in 2007 the Library was divided over two sites.

 

Some 170,000 items which are not on current display are stored at Blythe House in West Kensington. Blythe House also houses facilities including a conservation laboratory, a photographic  studio, and a quarantine area where newly arrived items are  examined.

 

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, is a large museum devoted to the development of science,

technology and industry with emphasis on the city's achievements in these fields.

 

There are extensive displays on the theme of transport (cars, aircraft, railway locomotives and rolling stock), power (water, electricity, steam and gas engines), Manchester's sewerage, and sanitation, textiles, communications and computing.

The museum is an Anchor Point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage; and is situated on the site of the world's first railway station – Manchester Liverpool Road – which opened as part of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in September 1830. The railway station frontage and warehouse are both Grade I listed.

 

Each of the institutions within the Science Museum Group is worthy of note and well worth a visit, but just before moving on to the ARCHIBUS installation, it is worth introducing the Science Museum facility at Wroughton airfield, near Swindon. It is one of two stores owned by the Science Museum and is used for the storage of the Museum's collection of large objects, library and archives. The site currently stores around 35,000 objects and twenty two kilometers of books and archives in eight hangars and a modern purpose-built store. This is over 8.5 acres (approx. 42,500 m2) of indoor storage.

 

The site was originally a wartime, RAF airfield. Today, the Science Museum owns ten hangars, having increased its holding by three in the late 90’s, on a site of some 550 acres. In 1994 the Museum opened a new purpose-built storage building at Wroughton.

 

It was designed to the Museum's specification with some consideration being given to conservation requirements. Known as A1 Store, it was built to house objects previously stored in an old warehouse in Hayes, West London, the building is able to hold over 10,000 objects.

 

 

Present


Mass supplied and installed the ARCHIBUS  system into the Science Museum about twelve years ago and it has been performing a valuable role since then. As we’ve previously discussed, most of the SMG  buildings are older and in most cases have made extensive use of ASBESTOS in the fabric of the buildings.

 

Mass developed an Asbestos Module on the  ARCHIBUS platform that enabled the Science Museum to register the presence of the material not just as a database but most importantly on  interactive floorplans and drawings.

Now considering the Museum has over 3 Million visitors each year it is essential that strict control is maintained over area’s where maintenance works may occur, particularly near public access. The Asbestos Module allows Tim Abraham at the Science Museum to quickly identify any risks and ensure they are avoided during works. He can also maintain an audit trail that lets him record the removal of Asbestos and quickly facilitate re-certification and occupation of the space.


All of the SMG sites by their very nature of being easily reached public buildings are located on prime real estate, so space utilisation is important. The second most  practical use of the system was in Space Management. Again it is the ability to visualise the museum’s space that helps in providing a quicker, more accurate impact on any changes.

 

Tim recognises that there are advantages in maintaining BIM models of the museum’s property and has been investigating the use of AutoCAD Revit, which integrates with the ARCHIBUS FM database, as a future standard BIM tool within the organisation.

 

As a public property, there is a necessity to comply with  pending legislation (April 2016) for all publicly funded new builds and some extension work to be designed and built within a BIM framework. This would have the potential to simplify the population of the Facility Managers database and so quickly and economically enable the next stage of the building lifecycle (maintenance).

The museum has been using the FSI Concept maintenance management software for many years and Mass designed and delivered a solution to synchronise ARCHIBUS with the Concept database to ensure building maintenance information was updated on a daily basis.

 

The recent upgrade of the ARCHIBUS system to Web Central was effected smoothly and efficiently with timely training through a controlled and phased changeover process. The latest web central solution from ARCHIBUS will greatly simplify report generation to aid in executive decision making and open up the system to self-service operation, planned for the SMG Northern sites, so increasing the value for money (VFM) delivered by the     system.

 

“I’m looking forward to completing the small piece of work necessary to bring the familiar ASBESTOS user interface on to the Web Central solution”


Future

 

The SMG is in the final stages of completing a contract to have all of its estate maintained by a national provider, and this with the availability of ARCHIBUS across the web, presents an opportunity to bring online all of the space and hazardous material management in the museum group.

 

Tim recognises the benefits of using mobile technology for maintenance as it delivers immediate audit data with a single point of entry, so cutting costs and improving accuracy.

The museum directorate are always planning at least 10-15 years ahead and the ability to model ‘what-if ‘ scenarios on ARCHIBUS could help realise lower cost, higher reliability and more flexible solutions within the space available.

As more and more of the museum group data processing systems are being interconnected, savings are being realised from the reduction in data redundancy, data duplication and data input errors. The powerful and proven ‘Connector™’ technology will ensure full integration of the ARCHIBUS database.

 

The latest version of ARCHIBUS Web Central applications are now available to users anywhere in the world, via a web browser, that implements all authorised changes in real-time and on a single relational database that ensures. This ensures ;

 

  • A dramatic increase in accuracy of data captured
  • Elimination of duplicated efforts
  • Reduction in the need to correlate databases
  • Increased data security
  • Empowering of users and stakeholders via controlled web access
  • Improved productivity through anytime anywhere access

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The options to develop the use of the system to include mobile technology, help desk and other facilities and estates management applications promises to help the SMG optimise their estates and customer experience as new social, economic and political forces present new challenges.

  

With over 3 million visitors every year the SMG needs to ensure they provide the right balance of exhibits and support services to maintain customer satisfaction.

 

  • The demographic of those visitors (in 2012/13) was:
  • 52% are male, 48% are female
  • 36% are children aged 0-15, 64% are adults (aged 16+)
  • 51% of visitors visit in a family group, 35% are independent adults and 14% are education groups
  • 36% are overseas visitors, 64% are from the UK
  • 42% come from London and the South East
  • 99% of visitors enjoyed their visit and found it interesting
  • 95% said that their visit was good value for money
  • 97% say they would recommend the Museum to friends
  • 83% would visit again
  • 87% say that their visit brought science and technology alive for them
  • 89% said they learnt something new during their visit

 

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