1902 Encyclopedia > London > Scientific Societies; Scientific Museums

(Part 25)


Scientific Societies. Scientific Museums.

The most influential of the scientific societies is the Royal Society, incorporated by Cahrles II. in 1663. Originally located near Gresham College, Crane Court, it was removed in 1780 to somerset House, and since 1857 it has occupied rooms in Burlington House, Pioccadilly. In 1854 old Burlington House, built by Richard Boyle, earl of Burlington, was purchased by the Government for 140,000 pounds, and in 1872 a new building in the Renaissance style was erected for the various societies formerly accommodated in Somerset House, viz., the Chemical Society, the Geological Society (instituted 1807, incorporated 1826), the Soceity of antiquaries (1707, 1751), the Royal Astronomical society (1820, 1831), and the Linnean Society 1788, 1802). The Royal Geographical Society (1830, 1859) occupying a commodious building in Saville Row, has within the last forty years taken a leading part in promoting geographical discovery. The Royal Asiatic Society (1823) is in Albemarle Street. The Royal Institution of great Britain, in the same street, established in 1799 chiefly for the promotion of research in connection with the experimental sciences, possesses a large library, a mineralogical museum, a chemical and a physical laboratory, and a foundation for a course of lectures. The Society of Arts, John Street, Adelphi, established in 1754 and incorporated in 1847, for the encouragement of arts, manufactures, and commerce, offers rewards for new inventions and discoveries, and grants certificates and prizes for proficiency in commercial knowledge, the industrial arts, musical theory, and domestic economy. Among other scientific societies the principal are the Statistical, the Meteorological, the Anthropological, the Entomological, the Numismatic, the Zoological, the Botanic, the Horticultural, the Institute of Civil Engineers, and the Royal Institute of British Architects, The zoological Society, instituted in 1826, rented in 1828 a portion of Regent’s Park, where they established gardens which now contain one of the finest collections of live specimens in the world. The gardens of the Botanic Society, which occupy 18 acres of Regent’s Park, are not of a strictly scientific character, being used chiefly for musical promenades and flower shows, and are to be distinguished from the Government gardens at Kew, which are noticed under Kew (q.v.). The Horticultural Society, founded in 1804, possesses large fruit and flower gardens at Chiswick, and in 1861 entered upon a lease of 22 acres of ground formerly occupied by the Exhibition of 1851, which they laid out at a cost of 50,000 pounds, and where they now hold their flower shows and fetes.

Of museums, London possesses two on a scale of unexampled vastness, the British Museum and the South Kensington Museum. The zoological collectio of the British Museum is still at Bloomsbury, but the departments of geology, mineralogy, and botany were removed in 1881 to a new building in Cromwell Road, South Kensington, called the British Museum of Natural History. The British Museum at Bloomsbury, and the South Kensington Museum, which are more directly connected with art than science, are noticed under the section Art. The Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, occupies a building in the Italian Palazzo style, erected in 1850 by Pennethorne at a cost of 30,000 pounds. It was founded in 1835 in connection with the geological survey of the United Kingdom, and also contains specially fine collections illustrative of the application of the minerals and metals to the useful arts. In the Patent Office Museum at South Kensington there are many of the original examples of the greatest mechanical inventions of modern times; and the United Service Museum, Whitehall, possesses relics and models illustrative both of the art of war and of the great naval and military achievements of England.

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