Ref NoRC/68
TitleScience Museum
DescriptionFollowing the foundation of the South Kensington Museum in 1857, further accommodation for the Art section was provided, when needed, from public funds, while space for the expansion of the science collections was made available only in the Commission's own buildings.
In 1874, the Report of the Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction and the Advancement of Science stated that 'we recommend the formation of a collection of Physical and Mechanical Instruments; and we submit for consideration whether this collection, the collection of the Patent Museum, and that of the Scientific and Educational Department of the South Kensington Museum, should be unified and placed under the authority of a Minister of State'. The 1851 Commissioners' subsequent offer of a sum of £100,000 for the erection of a building for a science museum was turned down in 1879 by the Government, which considered that the case for a museum was not sufficiently urgent.
Believing that the erection of a science museum and library was only a matter of time, the Commissioners reserved on their Estate a plot of 4½ acres which in 1888 they offered to convey to the Government for £70,000 - about a third of its value of £200,000 - on condition that it would be permanently used for purposes connected with science or the arts. The purchase of the site was completed in 1890.
On this site in 1890, urged on by representatives from many parties interested in the promotion of science, the Government finally undertook to erect a building for the museum with the aid of a grant of £100,000 promised by the Commissioners. The Commissioners' contribution was to be given in three separate amounts as the three sections of the building were put up. The first section was opened in 1928, when almost complete, by King George V.
By 1933, the Government wished to start construction of the second section of the building, thus requiring the Commissioners to draw on their capital resources for their next contribution. Arguing that payment of the balance of £65,000 - in two amounts - would seriously affect their scholarships' schemes where they felt the money could more appropriately be spent, the Commissioners appealed to the Treasury to be released from their obligation to the Science Museum. In reply, the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury stated that they 'were impressed by the high value of the educational schemes administered by the Commissioners' thereby releasing them from their undertaking and bringing to an end their official connection with the Science Museum.

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