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Biomedicine in museums

What intellectual and practical approaches should be developed to document and preserve the history of recent science and technology?

Actual and potential readers of this blog — that is, everyone with an interest in contemporary medical science and technology in museums — might be interested in this year’s meeting in the Artefacts series on the theme ‘Conceptualizing, Collecting and Presenting Recent Science and Technology’, to take place 25-27 September, 2011, in the Museum Boerhaave, Leiden.

The central questions for the meeting are:

  • What intellectual and practical approaches should be developed to document and preserve the history of recent science and technology?:
  • How can museums and academic communities develop an overview of the breadth and diversity of material culture associated with recent science and technology created at a variety of sites (universities, industry, government, and other venues) and scales of activity (local, national, and international)?
  • How do we develop criteria of selection to capture salient themes and transformations?’
  • What connections do we wish draw between artefacts as evidence and research questions of historians and other scholars?
  • What are the practical challenges in collecting and storing the types of artefacts, images, electronic expressions, and other products distinctive of recent history?
  • What forms of collaboration among museum and academic communities might help in addressing these challenges?
  • And, not least, how does such an effort relate to exhibitions and public outreach?

The organisers invite papers discussing the above questions and other themes dealing with the material history of recent science and technology. Paper presentations are limited to 20 minutes. The conference language is English.

Send abstract proposals of <200 words to Museum Boerhaave’s Head of Collections, Hans Hooijmaijers, before 1 July 2011. Also include a short biography highlighting main research interests (no more than 50 words).

The meeting will start in the afternoon of Sunday 25 September with a pre-conference tour around Museum Boerhaave, followed by a plenary lecture and drinks. Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 September will be devoted to paper presentations.

And for those who don’t know it yet, Artefacts is an association of historians of science and technology, mostly based in museums and academic institutions, who share the goal of promoting the use of objects in serious historical studies. This is done at annual meetings, in a book series and through encouraging the efforts of historically-oriented museums of science and technology.

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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