The MIT Museum Science Collection preserves objects documenting MIT’s involvement in the sciences. Though formed as an institute of technology, science was always a key part of an MIT education, particularly in chemistry and geology. In 1932, MIT president Karl Taylor Compton established the School of Science to better integrate the sciences into the curriculum. The departments that became part of the School of Science that year were Chemistry, Geology, Biology and Public Health, Mathematics, Physics, Military Science, and General Science.
Over the years, those departments shifted with the needs and scientific questions of the era. As federal funding increased in the immediate postwar years, MIT’s work in the physical sciences thrived with the influx of federal funding for basic research. The growing prominence of the life sciences in the 1970s and 1980s saw the growth of the Department of Biology, and the establishment of new research institutes in the life sciences, and a growing presence in biotechnology. The objects in the Science Collection trace this history, and showcase MIT’s role in the history of modern science.