University museums have played a significant role in the development of science and engineering knowledge for a long time. The first professorship of technology at Edinburgh University was synonymous with the position of curator of the university’s newly founded Industrial Museum. The unique approach of George Wilson, who held the first technology professorship at Edinburgh University in the 1850s, was to perceive the museum as an active mediator in the understanding of materials, techniques and processes. Artifacts for him were instrumental in the transmission of contemporary knowledge. Interaction with audiences in return enabled museum curators to build both collections and expertise. The examination of these historic practices today helps us to expand our own understanding of public engagement in museums.
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