Magazine article History Today

Scientific Shortsightedness?

Magazine article History Today

Scientific Shortsightedness?

Article excerpt

* Recent upheavals at the Science Museum may herald a change in attitude towards the role of curators and the history of science within the UK. Indeed, the British Society for the History of Science believes that current policies 'can only result in the deterioration of its collections, a decline in Britain's academic reputation, and the diminuation of the public understanding of science'.

It was in September 1993 that the first indications of the changes to come appeared. Proposals were announced for the future direction of the three museums which form the National Museum of Science & Industry: the Science Museum, London; the National Railway Museum, York; and the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford. Dr Nell Cossons, Director of the Science Museum said, 'We plan to restore contemporary science and technology to their rightful position of prominence in this museum by investment in our permanent galleries and presenting innovations - as they happen'.

This policy meant that priorities for expenditure would be shifted from running costs to capital expenditure. The intention is to spend over 4 million per year on renewing galleries and the opening of a new extension at the South Kensington site later in the decade. The exhibition programme seeks to focus on recent innovations in technology and medicine, while a special unit would be established to deal with contemporary science, technology and medicine, Finance will be provided by the museum's admissions income, with the balance coming from corporate sponsorship, profits from retail and commercial services and reductions in staff costs.

In late 1992, a Peer Review into the work of curators was carried out by the head of the Deutsches Museum, deputy head of the Smithsonian Institution, the Professor of the History of Science at Oxford and the head of France's Musee de Technic, Metier et Science. They concluded that the people were doing a good job and that no changes should be made. Consequently, the announcement of the job cuts came as a shock to employees at the museum. No consultation had taken place with the unions and it quickly became clear that curatorial and library staff were the main targets for reductions. Not surprisingly, staff are reluctant to speak on record to the press, fearing that their own jobs might be threatened as a result. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.