Dan Dare And The Birth Of Hi-Tech Britain is one of the exhibitions currently on at the Science Museum in London.
Using the character of Dan Dare and the cutaway illustrations from Eagle comic, the museum relates the technological advances in post-war Britain from 1945 through to 1970.
Located on the second floor, the exhibition begins with the Dan Dare section including the two murals Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson painted for the museum in 1976.
The originals of these are on display, as well as large reproductions on banners covering the museum’s windows.
Two display cases contain original Dan Dare artwork and Hampson’s ideas book which is open at an illustration of a Phant Army Lorry, previously published in Spaceship Away.
The cases also contain an impressive selection of 1950’s Dan Dare toys and games from the collection of David Britton.
The single largest item on display is an RAF Bloodhound 1 anti-aircraft missile, which hangs in mid-air just beyond the balcony railing and which which is displayed with L Ashwell-Wood’s cutaway illustration of it from Eagle.
The two balconies are divided into Reinventing The Home, which shows some of the technological breakthroughs of the time, from a coffee percolator to a video cassette recorder, and Building A New Britain, which shows items relating to the nuclear power industry, jet airliners and a practise round of the WE177 free-fall nuclear bomb carried by RAF bombers of the time.
While the Dan Dare section is relatively small in comparison to the rest of the exhibition, illustrations, cutaways and the Eagle masthead style yellow lettering on a red background visually tie the two separate galleries into the Dan Dare section well.
The Science Museum shop has a selection of tie-in merchandise specifically relating to the exhibition with two different t-shirt designs, one featuring the head of Dan Dare and and the other featuring the head of the Mekon, in a variety of children’s and adult sizes, a set of seven postcards in a presentation wallet consisting of a series of head shots of different Dan Dare characters, and a separate postcard of the main exhibition advertising illustration.
• Dan Dare And The Birth Of Hi-Tech Britain is on at the Science Museum in London until 25th October 2009 and entrance is free
Science Museum (Wayback Machine Links)
- The Science Museum – Audio introduction to Dan Dare Exhibition (MP3 – Wayback Machine Link)
- The Science Museum – Background information on Frank Hampson’s two murals – Wayback Machine Link
- The Guardian: In Pictures – Dan Dare and the Birth of Hi-Tech Britain
- The Guardian: Sufferin’ satellites! We’ve built the future!
- The Daily Telegraph: Where Dan dares, boffins follow
- New Scientist: Histories: Heroes for hard times (subscription required)
With thanks to Terry Doyle for identifying the source of the mural image