Go back to article: Moments of danger: photography, institutions and the history of the future

Science museums

So what does this mean for Bradford? If the National Science and Media Museum is to embrace a programme of STEM then, much like the Science Museum and its other offshoots, it appears to be an ideal – the ideal? – space in which to reflect on what technology means to, and for, society. This need not take the form of a prescriptive political vision but, rather, a series of questions through which the current and future meanings of technology will necessarily be defined. Will the governments that oversee automation ensure the savings made through a radical reduction in wage bills are shared, to create a future in which human beings are provided with the means to enjoy their newly gained freedom from toil? Or – saturated with old ideologies – will they protect the status quo, allowing automation to line the pockets of rich shareholders, while casting the rest of us adrift? What, in short, are the futures we would like to use technology to build? And what are the social, economic and political impediments that stand between us and their realisation? The implications of those questions stretch far beyond what we understand as the meanings of technology; not least, they help define the roles and responsibilities of our public museums, today and, particularly, tomorrow.

Figure 14

Colour photograph of a section of the Revelations experiments in photography exhibition at the National Media Museum in Bradford

Revelations: Experiments in Photography exhibition at the National Media Museum, Bradford

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/170708/008