Stephen Hawking at Work: exhibition to showcase rare personal items at Science and Industry Museum

A unique glimpse into the physicist's life through rare personal items, including his PhD thesis, a wager on black holes, and an invitation to a time travellers' party.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 9 May 2023

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Photo: Sarah Lee

This month, the Science and Industry Museum will host a new exhibition, “Stephen Hawking at Work,” offering a unique glimpse into the life and work of the world-renowned theoretical physicist. Launching on 25 May, the exhibition will showcase significant objects from Hawking’s office, providing insights into his time as a scientist, science communicator, and his experience living with motor neurone disease.

The Science Museum Group acquired the contents of Professor Hawking’s office in May 2021, and now visitors will have the opportunity to see a selection of these fascinating objects up close. Highlights of the exhibition include a rare copy of Hawking’s PhD thesis, a wager he made with his peers on whether matter falling into a black hole is forever lost to our universe, and an invitation to a party for time travellers that Hawking hosted, using the lack of guests as evidence that time travel to the past is impossible.

Detail from early generation voice synthesiser box used by Stephen Hawking

The display will also explore how Hawking’s work connects to Manchester, as discoveries by scientists in the city paved the way for the development of two of the most important ideas about our universe: quantum theory and general relativity. Additionally, the exhibition will delve into Hawking’s experience of motor neurone disease, which he lived with for more than five decades. Initially given a two-year prognosis when diagnosed, Hawking used a wheelchair from the late 1960s and a voice synthesiser from 1986 after an emergency tracheotomy left him unable to speak. Examples of both technologies will be featured in the exhibition.

One of five known copies of Hawking’s PhD thesis, Properties of Expanding Universes

This captivating exhibition offers a rare opportunity for science enthusiasts and those interested in the life of Stephen Hawking to gain a deeper understanding of the man behind the groundbreaking theories.


Stephen Hawking at Work
Where: Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4JP
When: Exhibition opens 25 May 2023