Focus: Museums and the history of science - Objects and the museum

Samuel J M M Alberti

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    This survey outlines a history of museums written through biographies of objects in their collections. First, the mechanics of the movement of things and the accompanying shifts in status are considered, from manufacture or growth through collecting and exchange to the museum. Objects gathered meanings through associations with people they encountered on their way to the collection, thus linking the history of museums to broader scientific and civic cultures. Next, the essay addresses the use of items once they joined a collection, whether classificatory, analytical, or in display. By thus embedding the study of scientific practice in material culture, this approach contributes to constructivist histories of science. The final section addresses the role of objects in the experience of the visitors, emphasizing how fruitful the history of museum objects can be in the study of the public engagement with science. © 2005 by The History of Science Society. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)559-571
    Number of pages12
    JournalIsis
    Volume96
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005

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