The Museum of the History of Science houses an unrivalled collection of historic scientific instruments in the world's oldest surviving purpose-built museum building, the Old Ashmolean on Broad Street, Oxford. By virtue of the collection and the building, the Museum occupies a special position, both in the study of the history of science and in the development of western culture and collecting.

As a department of the University of Oxford, the Museum has a role both in making these relics available for study by historians who are willing to look beyond the traditional confines of books and manuscripts as well as presenting them to the visiting public. The objects represented - of which there are approximately 20,000 - cover almost all aspects of the history of science, from antiquity to the early twentieth century. In addition, the Museum possesses a unique reference library for the study of the history of scientific instruments that includes manuscripts, incunabula, prints, printed ephemera and early photographic material.