Material Culture of Science: Museums and Collections in the Periphery

Coordinated by Anastasia Filippoupoliti

Members: José R. Bertomeu, Matthew Eddy, Anastasia Filippoupoliti, Antonio García-Belmar, Samuel Gessner, Maria M. Lopes, Pedro Ruiz-Castell, Jaume Sastre, Josep Simon, Ignacio Suay, Alfons Zarzoso


The material culture of science and the trajectories that scientific objects follow across a variety of places of scientific practice has been the subject of substantial research during the last decade, giving rise to significant research projects and publications which establish interdisciplinary interaction between fields such as the history of science, technology and medicine, scientific instrument studies, museum studies and archeology. Underpinning this is the idea that material culture contributes essentially to the processes of knowledge construction and that it reflects the shaping both of ideas and practices. In the light of that wide array of perspectives, this research group aims to study the material culture of science through the study of the production, circulation and use of material artifacts and the knowledge they represent, in the European periphery and in contexts beyond the European continent.

The aims of this research group are thus,

- To promote the production of case studies on the production circulation and uses of material artifacts.
- To promote historical studies on museums, collecting practices and expository strategies in the making and communicating of science, technology and medicine.
- To promote the study of the materiality of scientific artifacts and its connection with the making of scientific knowledge
- To provide expertise in relation to the development of projects of preservation and use of scientific artifact collections
- To provide expertise in the development of museums and exhibitions.
- To promote the interaction between fields such as history of science, museum studies, scientific instrument studies, science communication and scientific disciplines devoted to the study of materials.

Illustrative bibliography

Anderson, R. G. W., Bennett, J. A. and Ryan, W. F. (eds.) (1993) Making Instruments Count: Essays on Historical Scientific Instruments Presented to Gerard L'Estrange Turner. Ashgate.

Bennett, J. (1987) The Divided Circle: a History of Instruments for Astronomy, Navigation and Surveying. Phaidon-Christie's.

Buchli, V. (ed) 2002. The Material Culture Reader. Berg, Oxford.

Daston, L. (2007) Things that talk. The MIT Press.

Findlen, P. (1994) Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting and Scientific Culture in Early Italy. University of California Press.

Holmes, F. L. and Levere, T. H. (eds.) (2000), Instruments and Experimentation in the History of Chemistry. MIT Press.

Knell, S. J. (2000) The Culture of English Geology, 1815–1851. A Science Revealed through its Collecting. Ashgate.

Lourenço, M. C. & Carneiro, A. (eds), 2009. The Uses of Spaces, Collections and
Archives in Historical Studies. The Laboratorio Chimico Ouverture. Museum of Science of the University of Lisbon.

Pyenson, L. and Gauvin, J. F. (eds.) (2002) The Art of Teaching Physics: The Eighteenth-Century Demonstration Apparatus of Jean Antoine Nollet. Septentrion.

Yanni, C. (1999) Nature’s Museums: Victorian Science and the Architecture of Display. Athlone Press.


* Session Museums and Collections in Researching and Communicating the History of Science 8th STEP Meeting (Corfu, 21-14 June 2012)


Filippoupoliti, A. (ed.), Science Exhibitions: Communication and Evaluation (Edinburgh: MuseumsEtc., 2010).

Filippoupoliti, A. (ed.), Science Exhibitions: Curation and Design (Edinburgh: MuseumsEtc., 2010).

Bertomeu Sánchez, J. R., Mar Cuenca Lorente, M., García Belmar, A. and Simon, J., 'La Cultura Material de la Ciencia en España: historia, estado actual y proyectos de futuro', in Granato, M. and Lourenço, M. C. (eds.), Coleções científicas de instituições luso-brasileiras: Patrimônio a ser Descoberto (Rio de Janeiro: MAST/MCT, 2010).