From Stars to Cells: The Life of Iron

Our 2024 free temporary exhibition will explore the science of iron, taking you on a journey from iron's origins in space billions of years ago through to its use by humankind and in the Ironbridge Gorge.

The story of iron is particularly important to the local area, where the pioneering Darby family revolutionised our lives with their innovations in the iron industry, a symbol of which is the Iron Bridge.

This exhibition will explore the formation of iron atoms in stars and supernovas. You will have the chance to see up close meteorites formed in space 4.5 billion years ago.

Then you will be transported to the Iron Age and around 750 BCE, with a selection of objects on loan from Shropshire Museums. You will see Iron Age coins from the Claverley Hoard, unearthed in Shropshire; a gold decorative torc excavated in Telford; and a bronze sword found in the River Severn.

Also on display will be a bead from ancient Egypt dating from approximately 3200 BCE, on loan from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian and Sudanese Archaeology at University College London. The bead is the earliest known manmade iron object in human history.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is grateful to its Friends, who have paid for the case in which this bead will be displayed, and to Hiscox Insurance for insuring it.

This free exhibition is curated in partnership with Keele University and supported by Arts Council England.

Location: The Coalbrookdale Gallery


After your visit, delve deeper into the story of iron by visiting the nearby Old Furnace and Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron.

The Old Furnace is where Abraham Darby I pioneered his technique for smelting iron using coke, making the mass production of iron products possible.

At the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron you can learn about the Darby family and see an array of functional and decorative iron objects.

At Blists Hill Victorian Town you can also visit the blacksmiths and the foundry to see iron being work and cast using traditional Victorian methods. 



On select Saturdays, members of Wolverhampton Astronomical Society will be in the exhibition gallery giving visitors the opportunity to see up close modern telescopes and learn how they work.

In November the society will host a second Stargazing in Coalbrookdale event on the Coalbrookdale Green, a chance to see what lies in the skies above Telford. More information will be released soon.

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