On the 18th September 2012, the Science Museum launched its new Research and Public History Department. An excellent new initiative, revealing how “research is key to interpreting, safeguarding and developing the museum’s collections and to understanding our audiences. It underpins all of the Museum’s galleries and exhibitions” (from Science Museum website). I was the first collaborative PhD studentship with the Science Museum back in 2003 (!!!!) and I can definitely vouch for the vital contribution the Museum has and will continue to make as a result of this new initiative. My PhD was co-supervised by the head of this new department, Dr Tim Boon. The event itself was attended by museum staff, as well as past, present and potential collaborators. Following a drinks reception, the new department was officially opened and Professor Ludmilla Jordonova gave a speech. I couldn’t agree more with what Prof Jordonova had to say:
Research is about the aspiration to know more, better – to communicate more effectively and widely the results of such honest toil. As an academic I wish to pay tribute to museums as engines of research. We benefit hugely from collaborations with those who work in museums, and not only in posts that are most obviously concerned with research. The skills in writing good panels and labels are demanding and hard won and the insights to be derived from handling objects routinely, going into stores, dwelling with collections, are immense. (see here for full speech)
I am now an associate of the Research and Public History Department and I look forward to collaborating with staff across the Museum on research relating to enthusiasm, citizen science, technology and understandings of the present through the historical record.