For more than two hundred years the Royal Institution has been at the centre of scientific research and has also provided a cultural location for science in Britain. Within its walls some of the major scientific figures of the last two centuries - such as Humphry Davy, Michael Faraday, John Tyndall, James Dewar, Lord Rayleigh, William Henry Bragg, Henry Dale, Eric Rideal, William Lawrence Bragg and George Porter - carried out much of their research. Their discoveries include sodium, the miners' lamp, the electric dynamo, transformer and generator, the 'thermos' flask, x-ray crystallography and much else besides, all of which brought about major changes in the way we live. The success of the Royal Institution in research and in locating science within general culture led it being used as a model for other institutions, most notably by the founders of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Much has been written about the scientific work in the Royal Institution, but comparatively little attention has been devoted to the cultural settings which allowed the Royal Institution to become such a major site for the creation of scientific knowledge. This book seeks to rectify this gap by examining various aspects of its history through both thematic and chronological chapters.

chapter 1|16 pages


ByFrank A.J.L. James

chapter 3|16 pages

Acquiring and Constructing the Royal Institution in Mayfair

ByH.J.V. Tyrrell

chapter 4|38 pages

Forging Identity: The Royal Institution’s Visual Collections

ByG.M. Prescott

chapter 5|22 pages

Establishing the Royal Institution: Rumford, Banks and Davy

ByDavid Knight

chapter 6|28 pages

Running the Royal Institution: Faraday as an Administrator

ByFrank A.J.L. James

chapter 7|22 pages

John Tyndall at the Royal Institution

ByJ.D. Burchfield

chapter 8|22 pages

Exploring the Hyperarctic

James Dewar at the Royal Institution
ByWilliam H. Brock

chapter 10|24 pages

Craftsmanship and Social Service

W.H. Bragg and the Modern Royal Institution
ByHughes Jeff

chapter 12|32 pages

L’affaire Andrade or how not to Modernise a Traditional Institution

ByFrank A.J.L. James, Viviane Quirke