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The remodelled space will double the number of objects on display and includes a new horology conservation studio where, for the first time, visitors can watch conservators at work on some of the world’s most historically significant and complex clocks.

The new galleries, opening on February 15, represent the first phase in the £15m Time and Space redevelopment of the Observatory (a new 120-seat planetarium and astronomy education centre is scheduled to open in spring 2007). The four rooms will be titled Time and Longitude, Time and Society, Time and Greenwich and Time for the Navy.

The latter will include a display of more than 100 marine chronometers and the new conservation centre.

All will be located in the Observatory’s oldest buildings, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675 to house the first Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, and now home to the world’s finest collection of precision timekeeping devices and scientific instruments. Admission is free.