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The Beckman room The Caltech Science Museum

The Caltech Science Museum's Beckman Room Exhibit is located at 131 Beckman Institute on the Caltech campus.

As of March 2018, the Beckman Room will be closed for renovation. New opening hours will be posted later in May.

The room may also be viewed by appointment. Please contact the Archives at

Arnold Orville Beckman came to Caltech in 1923, at a time when both he and the Institute were young, little known, and had unlimited potential. Within a few years, he earned his Ph.D., joined the Caltech faculty, invented the pH meter, and left to launch an industrial empire. In the same period, Caltech laid the foundation for the great institution it was to become.

imageShown at right: Beckman (right) and James McCullough in a Caltech chemistry lab, 1934.

In many ways, the Beckman Institute celebrates nearly a century of Dr. Beckman's remarkable life, and Caltech's equally illustrious history, by creating a new laboratory dedicated to pushing back the frontiers of chemistry and biology. The exhibits in the Beckman Room introduce us to this history, and help us look forward to the future.

"The worth of dedication to excellence cannot be questioned. The desire to be in first place is the motivating force behind every athlete, every scientist, every creator of new and worthwhile things." –Arnold Beckman


Room Features

Arnold and Mabel Beckman's life

imageThe museum includes in its central case an artifactual collage of the life of Arnold Beckman. Representative objects such as childhood photos, Beckman's camping gear, his medals and citations, and Mabel Beckman's wedding bouquet form a three-dimensional record of their life and times.

imageThe History of Chemistry

A time line on the east wall chronicles the march of chemistry and related scientific discoveries from the seventeenth century to the 1980s in pictorial images, text, and three-dimensional artifacts.

image1920s Chemistry Lab

Included in the museum is a laboratory recreation that presents a chemistry lab of the 1920s and 1930s, the time when Arnold Beckman was at Caltech.

imageBeckman Institute Research

The Beckman Institute blackboard is an informal pictorial and graphic representation of the highly innovative work now being done by research groups in the Beckman Institute.

imageThe Man Behind the Machines

Arnold O. Beckman: The Man Behind the Machines, is an 11 minute film that explores the relationship between Beckman's early life and his career in science.

Beckman pH meter

imageThe Beckman Instruments display, beginning with the pH meter of 1934, highlights the development of the company that became Beckman Instruments and started a revolution in scientific instrumentation.

imageThe Beckman Foundation

A final case describes the work of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, that supports institutional research in scientific and medical areas. Caltech has been a major beneficiary of the Beckmans' generosity.


The Beckman Room
The Archives also maintains the Beckman Room, which currently features a special exhibition on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Richard Feynman's birth, The Mind’s Eye: Richard Feynman in Word and Image.

In work and play, Richard Feynman was a distinctively visual thinker. The Caltech Archives is telling the story of Feynman’s life and physics by exhibiting the notes and artwork through which he shared his vision.

Highlights include the early Feynman diagrams with which Feynman developed his Nobel Prize-winning contributions to quantum electrodynamics, illustrated lecture notes for the famous Feynman lectures on physics, sketches of colleagues and campus sites, and photographs of Feynman as a teacher, drummer, and amateur actor. The exhibit now also includes a virtual reality experience which brings Feynman's playful spirit to life with one of his favorite autobiographical stories.

The exhibit now also includes a virtual reality experience which brings Feynman’s playful spirit to life with one of his favorite autobiographical stories. Additional information here.

Hours: May 14 2018– June 14, 2019
Monday to Friday: 11 am to 4 pm

Location: The Beckman Museum is located in room 131 on the 1st floor of the Beckman Institute.

Admission: Admission is free. Thanks to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for their generous sponsorship of this exhibit.


In the lobby of the Beckman Institute, two cases are displaying a selection of photographic works and personal papers from the collection of astronomer George E. Hale (1868-1938). Presented by Mt. Wilson Institute in collaboration with Carnegie Observatories, Caltech Archives, Elizabeth Moule and Stephanos Polyzoides.

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