Sharing National Communications Collections and Local Knowledge
The Science Museum Group
Collections and Local Knowledge
Museums hold in their collections the material heritage of many communities. The Science Museum is home to objects and archives which have the potential to be explored and shared for their local, community meanings. Our work explores the opportunities for using objects and archives from national collections to communicate and make sense of local knowledge and memories within communities, as well as enrich these objects with local meanings.
The Science Museum’s collections focus on the themes of engineering, technology, science and medicine. Although the Museum might be famous for icons such as Stephenson’s Rocket, Watt’s steam engine and Watson & Crick’s double helix DNA model, the majority of objects have featured in the everyday rather than the extraordinary. They range from cars to computers, prosthetic limbs to lathes, and from scientific toys to toilets. Objects from the Consumer Technology and Transport collections help us understand how our ancestors lived and moved themselves and their goods around. Collections related to local trades and industries might be valuable resources to local historians. The Library and Archives hold a vast collection of biographies, company archives, drawings and patents.
Objects can provide us with invaluable information through their size, material, provenance and even signs of wear and tear. The Museum is interested in making its collections, Library and Archives accessible to All Our Stories applicants, but is also keen to find out how community groups perceive their own heritage in relation to the history of engineering, technology, science and medicine.
What activities have we planned?
Because the Science Museum’s collections are so varied and we want to have time to talk through the possibilities with each group, we’d like to suggest individual meetings rather than an Open Day to explore how we might assist you with your research. If you would be interested in using the Science Museum’s resources, finding out more about using objects in your research or need advice on creating a small exhibition or display as one of the outcomes of your research, please contact us via the email address below.
Who is involved?
Our work draws together a team of researchers under the auspices of the Science Museum’s Research and Public History Department who have considerable experience of working with community, heritage and enthusiast groups, as well as practical expertise in community group engagement. The Museum seeks to empower community groups both to value their contribution to understanding science and technology heritage and to start setting the agenda and the research questions to explore themselves.
The Science Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, which also includes the National Media Museum in Bradford, National Railway Museum in York and the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester.
Getting in touch
If you’d like to find out more please email the project team: PublicHistory@ScienceMuseum.org.uk