Visit the Birthplace of James Clerk Maxwell

The innovative thinking of Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell laid the foundation for many items we take for granted today, such as radio, television and mobile phones. To honor the man who is widely considered being one of the greatest scientists ever, the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation purchased his birthplace in Edinburgh in 193 and turned it into a museum and educational venue. Today visitors (by appointment) to 14 India Street can view a growing collection of items related to James Clerk Maxwell, his family and associates, while reflecting on the impact his innovations continue to have on the world today.

Formed in 1977 as a nonprofit organization, the James Clerk Maxwell foundation has four main stated objectives: Firstly, to host seminars, workshops, symposiums and courses for mathematicians, scientists and engineers from around the world; secondly, to create a museum in Maxwell’s birthplace where his history and technical advances can be displayed to the public; thirdly to present programmes aimed at encouraging young students to pursue careers as mathematicians, scientists and engineers; and lastly, to host meetings, lectures, exhibitions and cultural events dedicated to increasing public awareness of the role James Clerk Maxwell played in laying the foundations for various technologies we use today.

James Clerk Maxwell was born on 13 June 1831 at 14 India Street in the Georgian New Town suburb of Edinburgh and attended school at the Edinburgh Academy before continuing his education, first at Edinburgh University, and then at the University of Cambridge. He became Professor of Physics at Aberdeen‘s Marischal College at the age of 25, later moving to London’s King’s College and in 1871 becoming Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge University’s new Cavendish Laboratory. It was here that he did much of his groundbreaking work, most notably principles of the electromagnetic field as detailed in his 1865 publication A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field. In addition to his work with electromagnetism, which led to the development of radio and infra-red telescopes used today to explore space, Maxwell had a great interest in photography and produced the first color photograph.

Tours of the museum are by appointment and can be arrange via the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation website.