The Science Museum in South Kensington, London is part of the National Museum of Science and Industry. The museum is a major London tourist attraction. It holds a collection of items focusing on development of science and technology, including such famous items as one of Stephenson's early locomotives, the first jet engine and a reconstruction of Francis Crick and James Watson's model of DNA. The museum houses many objects around a medical theme.
What seems to be less reported is the museum's excellent collection of ship models, showing the development of naval technology from ancient Greek and Roman galleys to the steamers of the 20th century. I visited the museum in December 2007 and found the contemporary ship models of the great age of sail the finest collection I ever saw. However, according to the Wikipedia information on the Science Museum, the naval technology department seems to have been closed in 2012.
There is more information on the museum in the homepage of the Science Museum.
To give you an idea about the excellent quality of that exhibition I
show photographs of some of the contemporary models. They were well lit
and on the backside equipped with mirrors to make every detail clearly
The photo above shows one of a group four models: HMS Inconstant of 1783, HMS Endymion 1779, HMS Achilles 1757 and HMS Warrior 1781.
High resolution photos of four 18th century contemporary ship
21 pictures. If you click on a picture you will get the high resolution image.
There were many more fine models like the 1670 contemporary model of HMS Prince, the naval cutter of the end of the 18th century, the paddle frigates of the 1840s, the steamer Great Western of 1837, the steamer Scotia of 1861, the blockade runner Colonel Lamb during the American Civil War in 1864, the harbour tug Dromedary of 1894 and the small steamer St. Patrick of 1913. These models shown here are just a few of a magnificent large collection.
If you look for something really old: just around the corner of the Science museum is the Natural History Museum where you are greeted by the skeleton of a 26 m dinosaur in the main entrance hall. They have some more dinosaurs on display, small, large and very large.