Collecting 21st-century science, technology and medicine - NMS Research Repository
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Collecting 21st-century science, technology and medicine

Abstract

Museums are often associated exclusively with bygones. This can be problematic, especially for those who manage science, technology and medicine (STM) collections. In seeking to correct this misconception with contemporary collecting, they also face other problems, especially in scale and complexity. While acknowledging such challenges, this opinion piece proposes opportunities afforded by the material culture of recent STM. Contemporary material can be used to tell stories as well as explain technicalities; it can connect with visitors using everyday objects and put ‘difficult’ material into context. Against the backdrop of practice and publications from across the sector, we present examples from the redisplay at the National Museum of Scotland in 2016, and from our current collecting initiatives. We thereby bring our perspective on the current state-of-play in STM collecting to the attention of the wider museum sector, drawing scattered practices together and weaving in our own.

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