In 1890 a Section of Physical Apparatus was established in the Department of Arts and Industries with William Crawford Winlock as Honorary Curator. In 1897 the Section became the Mechanical Phases collection in the Division of Technology, curated by J. Elfreth Watkins.
In 1938 the Section of Physical Sciences and Measurement was created from the Section of Mechanical Technology of the Division of Engineering. Frank A. Taylor, Curator of Engineering, assumed curatorial responsibility for Physical Sciences and Measurement, serving in this capacity until 1955. His successor, Robert P. Multhauf, was Curator of the Section from 1955 to 1957.
In 1957 the Section of Physical Sciences and Measurement became the Division of Physical Sciences, Department of Science and Technology, in the Museum of History and Technology (MHT). Multhauf served as Curator of the Division until the position was assigned to Faye Cannon (prior to 1976, Walter F. Cannon) in 1965.
Research and collections of the Division of Physical Sciences principally focused on the history of astronomy, meteorology, chemistry, classical physics, geology, astrophysics, and mathematics. Curators and staff of the Division included Robert P. Multhauf, Curator of the Section of Physical Sciences and Measurement, 1955-1957, Curator of the Division of Physical Sciences, 1957-1965; Faye Cannon, Associate Curator, 1962-1964, Curator, 1965- ; Lester Clark Lewis, Curator, 1962; Uta C. Merzbach, Associate Curator, 1964-1967; Deborah J. (Mills) Warner, Assistant Curator, 1964-1966, 1968-1969, Associate Curator, 1970- ; and Jon B. Eklund, Assistant Curator, 1968-1969, Associate Curator, 1970- .