Computer Museum series
Great Computing Museums
of the World, Part Two
The second of a two-part series highlighting several of the world’s museums
dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and elucidating computing history.
SoMe oF The science and technology museums around the world are de- voted to science discov- ery—to teaching their
visitors, especially children, about the
principles of science and technology.
Other science and technology museums are more focused on the history
and cultural significance of particular
scientific discoveries and technological
inventions. Some museums include a
blend of the two functions.
PhotograPh courtesy of the u.s. national museum of american history
This is the second installment of a
two-part Communications series featuring five of world’s greatest computing
museums. These museums have been
chosen for their contributions to the
history and culture mission, though
most of them have some elements of
the science discovery mission as well.
There are perhaps hundreds of small
and not-so-small museums around the
world either devoted entirely to computing or at least having significant
computing exhibits. The museums
highlighted in this series have been selected because of the large size of their
exhibits, the importance and quality of
the artifacts shown, and the quality of
An exhibit is not simply a collection of artifacts; it includes signage
and other accompanying information
(films, lectures, guided tours) that help
to interpret the artifacts and set them in
context. Each of the exhibits described
in this series is the result of years of hu-
a selection of the u.s. national museum of american history Pc collection.
man labor in preparation: designing the
exhibit, selecting and securing the artifacts, and giving them the right interpretation. This work has been carried
out by some of the best historians of science and technology, who work in these
museums collecting artifacts and the
associated information and documentation about them, answering queries
from all kinds of people about their collections and about the science and its
history, undertaking scholarly research,
preparing educational materials, and
doing much more. The exhibits are only
one facet of what these museums do.
The museums featured in this column are the Science Museum in London, the Deutches Museum in Munich,
and the U.S. National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. (The
first part of series appeared in the January 2010 issue.) We hope you enjoy the
accounts of these museums and that
these stories will whet your appetite to
explore the museums’ Web sites and to
visit the museums in person.
William Aspray ( email@example.com) is bill and
lewis suit Professor of information technologies at
the university of texas, austin and a Communications
viewpoints section board member.