Nantwich Museum

From Nantwich to Oxygen

This exciting new temporary exhibition will run in the Museum’s Millennium Gallery from Wednesday 14 August to Saturday 26 October 2019.

Developed with support from the Royal Society of Chemistry, the exhibition focuses on the life of Joseph Priestley – famous scientist, theologian and teacher who lived and worked in Nantwich from 1758-1761. The exhibition forms part of 2019’s International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements celebrations.

Joseph Priestley was a dissenting minister in Nantwich, where he established a school at which he taught a variety of subjects including science (known at the time as ‘natural philosophy’). His pupils were introduced to scientific equipment and experiments and historians have suggested that Priestley’s scientific teachings in Nantwich constituted the first ever science lessons. During his time in Nantwich, he wrote a book entitled The Rudiments of English Grammar, and he is still recognised as a major figure in the study of English by today’s teachers and students of linguistics. Joseph Priestley went on to discover oxygen and made significant contributions in the fields of religion and political philosophy, emerging as an important, though controversial, international figure and man of the Enlightenment.

Soon after Priestley discovered oxygen in 1774, early versions of the Periodic Table, a display of chemical elements arranged according to their properties, came into being. Today the Periodic Table includes 118 elements. The Museum’s Craft Group has embroidered a copy of the Table, which will form a unique feature of the exhibition. The role and importance of oxygen, the 23rd element to be discovered, will be a key component of the exhibition.

The exhibition features:
An Element Trail around the Museum
Workshops for Children
Periodic Table-themed Coffee Morning
Joseph Priestley in his Element – a series of short talks
Priestley’s Footsteps Walking Tours, where we will look at Nantwich when Joseph Priestley lived in the town.

Entry to the exhibition is free, but a small charge will be made for some of the special events.

Further information about Joseph Priestley can be found here:

Nantwich Museum have put links to some carefully selected videos and interactives associated with this exhibition here.

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s event listing for the exhibition is here:

For more information contact: Nantwich Museum on or telephone 01270 627104.

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