The Royal Institution of Great Britain
The RI holds an extensive collection of over 500 items of film and video dating from 1930s to the present day. The majority of the archive concentrates on Christmas Lectures and Friday Evening Discourses given within the RI Lecture Theatre and recorded in-house and by the BBC. The subject of these lectures is wide-ranging covering all aspects of scientific history, research and development.
The Royal Institution was established in 1799 with the purpose of 'diffusing science for the common purposes of life'. Now, over 200 years on, we're a charity dedicated to increasing knowledge, excitement and involvement in science and technology through our public programmes for adults and education initiatives young people, Faraday Museum and history of science activities, scientific research and the famous Christmas Lectures.
21 Albemarle Street
Phone: 020 74092992
Access: The public are able to view archive film on DVD and video format within the reading room, which is open by appointment: Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. Closed on bank holidays and between Christmas and New Year.
Collection Policy for moving image material: Material which relates to the history of the Royal Institution since its founding in 1799, in particular moving image material which highlights an event or activity being undertaken at the Ri.
The most interesting aspects of our archival film collection to me, are the collection of past Christmas Lecture broadcasts. This programme has been going on since it was founded by Michael Faraday in 1825. To see the early filmed lectures from the 1960's onwards made by prominent scientists of the day and how they engage with a fascinated audience is a sheer delight!
Charlotte New, Curator of Collections