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Exhibition of archives and artefacts from the collections of the Royal Society.

Download the exhibition catalogue (PDF) here.

About the exhibition

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.

Visiting the exhibition

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.

Enquiries: Contact the events team.