A large room at the top of the Science Museum, normally filled with schoolchildren has also gained a huge new mural by the illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake.
The murals, in his distinctive style, depict 20 scientists and pioneers from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, all of whose work or inventions are featured in the Science Museum’s collections.
Pilot Amy Johnson is there, as is eighteenth century inventor of the ‘Spinning Machine’, Sir Richard Arkwright; and Alexander Fleming, who discovered the antibiotic, penicillin.
The ‘enchantress of numbers’ Ada Lovelace adorns one panel alongside the analytical engine on which she wrote a detailed and penetrating explanation of its significance. Next to her is polymath Jagadis Chandra Bose (1858-1937), the first scientist to use a semiconductor junction to detect radio waves.
The murals are on permanent display in a space often used for school group lunches next to the Science Museum’s Wonderlab gallery.
It’s not just an artwork to fill a space, but also to show that the people shown, even when done in ink and watercolour, are a wide range, young, old, men and women, and that anyone can be a scientist, an inventor, and engineer.
At the unveiling, Sir Quentin Blake said that it was an unusual challenge as he is more used to creating character images from what other people have written, and it’s unusual for him to illustrate real people.
This artwork was commissioned by the Science Museum at the request of its Chair of Trustees, Dame Mary Archer.
If you’re keen on them, you can also take them home with you, as a selection of postcards.