The contents of Professor Stephen Hawking’s office when he worked in Cambridge are to go on display at the Science Museum.

It’s part of an agreement with the Hawking’s estate that will see his archive papers gifted to Cambridge University Library, while personal item from his office have been gifted to the Science Museum.

The decision to distribute the archive to the two institutions is part of a £4.2 million Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) agreement, which allows inheritance tax to be offset by gifts of equivalent value to the nation.

The £4.2m AIL agreement will see around 10,000 pages of Hawking’s scientific and other papers remain in Cambridge, while objects including his wheelchairs, speech synthesisers, and personal memorabilia from his former Cambridge office will be housed at the Science Museum.

Professor Hawking’s former office at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. The contents of his office have been acquired by the Science Museum. Credit: Mark Box/Blazej Mikula

Keeping the document archive at Cambridge means it can be studied by future scientists, and it will join the university’s existing collections from many of the leading lights in science.

The physical artefacts from Professor Hawkin’s office, from his blackboards and his wheelchair, right down to his coffee machine, will go on public view for the first time in a new display at the Science Museum in early 2022, and they later plan to recreate his office, in the same way they have done with James Watt’s workshop.

Following work to photograph and catalogue the collection, it will also be added to the Science Museum Group’s online archive so that it can be viewed anywhere.

Meanwhile, in Cambridge, the University is launching a fundraising drive to complete the work of conserving and cataloguing the archive, and to ensure that members of the public are given an opportunity to engage with the archive through a programme of exhibitions, events and digitisation in the Cambridge Digital Library.

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