The “artist’s studio” of an office where Stephen Hawking revolutionised our understanding of the universe has been donated to the Science Museum and will be re-created there as part of its permanent exhibition.
The physicist’s family have handed over a treasure trove of items including the modified wheelchair that allowed him to talk and write despite the effects of motor neurone disease that gradually paralysed him.
Dr Ali Boyle, Keeper of Science at the Science Museum, said the museum hoped to show some of the highlights from the University of Cambridge next year including a copy of his PhD, a selection of medals including his CBE and his glasses that were fitted with a sensor allowing him to speak by moving his cheek bones.
She said: “The bigger project is catalogue the entire office, recreate the entire office as an artist’s studio essentially and then we hope to put that on display in a permanent gallery but that will take us a couple more years to do that”.
Items including office furniture, research notes and a series of bets he made with fellow scientists about the nature of black holes were given to the museums - with his archive going to Cambridge University Library - as part of an Acceptance in Lieu agreement settling a tax bill of £4.2 million.
Hawking, who was played by Eddie Redmayne in biopic The Theory of Everything, was the most famous scientist of his generation reaching an audience like no other with appearances in The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory.
His children, Lucy, Tim and Robert Hawking said they were pleased the donations would “make his legacy accessible to the widest possible audience”.
Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, said: “By preserving Stephen’s office and its historic contents as part of the Science Museum Group Collection, future generations will be able to delve deep into the world of a world-leading theoretical physicist who defied the laws of medicine to rewrite the laws of physics and touch the heart of millions. These remarkable items might even inspire the next Professor Hawking to wonder about the world around us.”