What is a museum? A repository of objects? An educational tool? A display of imperial power?
There is a whole ‘science’ devoted to museum, needless to say, (known as 'museum studies'); and appropriately enough, there are whole museums devoted to science. Science museums come, however, in different flavours. The Science Museum in London, so far as I remember, mostly justifies its own existence as an educational establishment. It is a whirr of free-range children pinging from room to room, from display to display, pushing buttons to see what lights up, what happens. The exhibits are there to interact with.
The other flavour is a bit less spangly. You don’t push any buttons. You don’t interact. There are no screaming children. There are no children at all.
In the latter mould of museum is the Whipple Museum of the History of Science in Cambridge. It is dry. It is laconic. It is case after case of brass objects. And it is, if you move slowly and look carefully, very interesting.
You can in fact interact a little if the spirit moves you. You can make your own shell display, for example, or look at early 3D images in the Victorian Parlour. There is quite a good interactive website. But beyond such novelties, there are mainly just things to inspect. There is a ‘unique’ collection of globes. There are microscopes, sundials, telescopes, slide-rules, pocket electronic calculators, and ‘a range of laboratory equipment’ (of which I recall little, if I’m honest, beyond a Wimshurst Machine and a Van der Graaf generator).