Support us | Visit us | Contact us
Satirical cartoon of a Royal Institution lecture, by James Gillray, 1802 (detail)
Exhibition of archives and artefacts from the collections of the Royal Society.
Download the exhibition catalogue (PDF) here.
The discovery of elements, materials vital to modern society, reached its zenith in the early 19th century. Then, chemists were popular and above all Romantic, epitomised by the young, handsome Sir Humphry Davy: not only a pioneering scientist, but a poet and and editor of Lyrical Ballads. Fashionable society in London and Paris flocked to hear lectures on the new world of gases and metals as scientists vied to be the next to find and name the building blocks of nature. The competition played out in the pages of the Philosophical Transactions and eventually in the race for the Royal Society’s Presidency. This exhibition uses the Royal Society’s archives to tell the Europe-wide story of Davy, J J Berzelius, Charles Hatchett, and William Hyde Wollaston: the elements they uncovered and the modern world they built.
Professor Martyn Poliakoff FRS talks about one of our exhibition artefacts in his new video 'Famous Science Spectacles', part of the Periodic Table of Videos. Watch it on YouTube.
The exhibition is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm. No prior appointment is necessary during those times. The exhibition is free and all are welcome to visit.
Contact: Contact the events team.
Evening events 1 Jul
Public exhibition 2 - 7 Jul
For more please see the Events diary.
Enter your address to receive regular emails about public events at the Royal Society.
Full listing of our events and exhibitions.
Watch videos of past events.
Most of our talks are free and open to the public.
We host major conferences for leading scientists.
Explore our annual science exhibition
Contact the events team.