Science Museum Group Journal
The Science Museum Group Journal presents the global research community with peer-reviewed papers relevant to the wide-ranging work of the Science Museum Group. The journal freely shares the research of four national UK museums and warmly invites contributions that resonate with their collections and practice.
08 CURRENT ISSUE Autumn 2017 - Issue 08
Issue 08 is supersized. This is partly due to a rare collection of papers gathered under a Museums theme. These are authored by senior curators and museum directors (Dirk Van Delft, Peter Donhauser, Martha Fleming, Jennifer Landry and Robert Bud) who were involved in experimental responses to a perceived crisis in science museums at the turn of this century. In other articles Charlotte Sleigh looks at the cultural history of the wireless through a work by science-fiction author E C Large, and Barry Murnane et al use a study of Dr Nelson’s Inhaler to explore the growth of inhalation therapy in the mid-nineteenth century. Meanwhile, Sophie Goggins et al return to museum practice by considering how museums display prosthetics. The issue also includes three articles by entrants to the Journal’s first annual writing competition for early career scholars: John Kannenberg, Joshua Butt, and Jean-Francois Fava-Verde. And it presents an experimental type of article – ‘Reflections on Research’ (see Tim Boon et al). But issue 08 starts and finishes with articles questioning the nature of modern scholarship and scholarly publication. In his Editorial, Justin Dillon considers what open-access journals can do to encourage generous scholarship, while the Journal’s new Reviews Editor, Geoff Belknap, asks what readers want from a modern reviews section.
A symposium on histories of use and tacit skills
The histories of use of the objects in museum collections, and the unrecorded skills of their operation, have posed pressing research questions for museum people and university scholars alike. This symposium drew together different perspectives on this emerging area of study.
Museum theme – Beyond the Black Box: reflections on building a history of chemistry museum
An examination of the development of a history of chemistry museum from the perspective of the curatorial team, including the stumbling points, challenges and successes. The article looks at critical elements in exhibition development including audience and artefact selection.
Prosthetic limbs on display: from maker to user
We reflect upon the way that prosthetic users have been represented in displays at the Royal College of Surgeons of England and National Museums Scotland. In particular, we assess how far user/patient voice balances clinical/technical narratives.
‘Great ease and simplicity of action’ – Dr Nelson’s Inhaler and the origins of modern inhalation therapy
This paper reconstructs the history and reception of the Dr Nelson’s Inhaler as a means of understanding the growth of inhalation therapy in the mid-nineteenth century.
‘Not one voice speaking to many’: E C Large, wireless, and science fiction fans in the mid-twentieth century
This article analyses E C Large’s novel Dawn in Andromeda (1956), using it to explore the cultural history of the wireless. In the 1930s, the wireless figured as an instrument of fannish participation alongside participatory writing practices. By the 1950s it had become a disappointment.
Something in the Air: Dr Carter Moffat’s Ammoniaphone and the Victorian Science of Singing
This essay analyses representations of the ammoniaphone across nineteenth-century advertising and the medical and musical press, and situates these representations within the broader Victorian fascination with the supremacy of Italian opera singers and the emergent corporeal anxieties of late nineteenth-century consumer culture.
‘A Chamber of Noise Horrors’: Sound, Technology and the Museum
This article analyses the 1935 Science Museum exhibition on Noise Abatement in order to draw wider conclusions about technological sound and the museum and to make an argument in favour of hearing museum sound historically.
Phillip Carpenter and the convergence of science and entertainment in the early-nineteenth century instrument trade
For the instrument makers of the early-nineteenth century there was no distinction between scientific and popular instruments. Exploring the case of the optician Phillip Carpenter, this article will address three popular media formats — the 1817 Kaleidoscope, 1821 Phantasmagoria Lantern and 1827 Microcosm.
Contexts for photography collections at the National Media Museum
In 2016 the National Media Museum transferred parts of its photographic collections to the Victoria and Albert Museum. This article examines the reactions to this decision to understand what it can tell us about public perceptions of the role of museums, and places the transfer in the wider contexts of sustainable collecting practices, economic pressures and local circumstances.