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English Literature

Hippisley Farting

New Discoveries in Pneumaticks! – or – an Experimental Lecture on the Powers of Air.’, by James Gillray, London, 1802

The Museum has an extensive collection of scientific instruments and models along with historical books and archive material which can provide rich source material for creative writing and contextual studies.

In particular, the Museum’s collection is strong in Renaissance objects including early timepieces such as sundials and astrolabes, and 18th- and 19th-century objects including optical instruments such as telescopes and microscopes, early chemical and electrical apparatus, and medical instruments. A wonderful collection of cameras includes Lewis Carroll’s photographic developing equipment, T.E. Lawrence’s archeaological camera, and a Victorian “magic lantern” amongst other Victorian optical devices.

Previous groups have used a visit to the Museum to provide context for novels such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. There is plenty of material relevant to the 18th-century and the influence of natural philosophy on 19th-century Romanticism. The Museum and its collection also provide an atmosphere reminiscent of children’s books such as Phillip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials, Harry Potter, and Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce.

Secondary programme leaflet

Taught sessions for secondary and post-16 are normally available on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Sessions vary in length between 1-2 hours and normally accommodate between 20-30 students depending on the session.

For more information about facilities and arrangments for visits, please see

For enquiries and bookings, please email: