Monday, March 16, 2009

Science and transport museums: reference treasure troves

For the precision scale modeler, having decent reference material to add the final touches to your masterpiece can easily make the difference between a ‘very good’ model and a ‘wow!’ show-winner.

So tracking down original source material can be vital to the discerning modeler, as well as making for an interesting day out. Luckily, many of the world’s museums are waiting for you to step right in and take as many photos as you need. Remember though that while museums are usually happy for you to take photos for personal use, they are not so keen if they are for commercial gain, unless there’s a prior agreement in place.

The US has many such museums, though my favourite has to be the mammoth Smithsonian National Air and Space in Washington DC. I spent three days there on my first trip! London’s Science Museum is much smaller, but also has its share of treasures, including the original Vickers Vimy, beautifully preserved since Alcock and Brown flew it across the Atlantic Ocean in June, 1919.

There are also some fine models in this museum, including some nice dioramas like the V-2 mobile launch site, shown here. It could be time to check out your local museums – whether you like cars, trains, boats, planes or spacecraft, you’ll likely find something interesting not too far away.