The object collections

Learn more about the range of historical apparatus and experimental equipment of the many scientists who have researched, lectured and lived in the Ri building.

  • Michael Faraday's laboratory at the Ri

    Michael Faraday's laboratory at the Ri

    Credit: Paul Wilkinson
  • Michael Faraday's laboratory

    Michael Faraday's laboratory at the Ri

    Credit: Paul Wilkinson

About

The object collections of the Royal Institution include the apparatus and experimental equipment of many of the scientists, who have researched, lectured and lived in the building. This includes, amongst others, the scientific work of Humphry Davy, Michael Faraday, John Tyndall, James Dewar and William and Lawrence Bragg and George Porter.  

Many great discoveries have occurred or were researched in the basement of 21 Albemarle Street, and a significant proportion of the apparatus used can still be viewed including: 

  • Humphry Davy’s discovery of nine chemical elements and his invention of the Davy lamp to enable safe mining
  • Thomas Young’s establishment of the wave theory of light 
  • Michael Faraday’s development of the electric motor, the electric generator, the field theory of electro-magnetism and liquefaction of gas for cooling purposes
  • John Tyndall’s discovery of the greenhouse effect (radiant heat experiments)
  • Lord Rayleigh’s discovery of argon 
  • James Dewar’s liquefaction of hydrogen and his invention of the Dewar Flask (now more commonly known as the thermos flask)
  • William Henry and William Lawrence Bragg’s invention of the X-ray analysis of crystals and biological molecules (X-ray Crystallography)
  • George Porter’s discovery of laser analysis of very fast chemical reactions

Many of these objects are featured in the website's Iconic Objects section

Visit

The Ri welcomes anyone to freely come and visit the object collections in the Michael Faraday Museum with displays across three floors of our home at 21 Albemarle Street.

When viewed alongside the Ri’s archival collections, a very detailed picture emerges of life and scientific breakthroughs at the Ri - and across the world - over the last two centuries.

If anyone has a research query regarding aspects of the collection which are not on permanent display please contact archivist@ri.ac.uk

Related content