Science Museum Group Journal
The Science Museum Group Journal presents the global research community with peer-reviewed papers relevant to the wide-ranging work of the Science Museum Group. The Journal freely shares the research of five national UK museums and warmly invites contributions that resonate with their collections and practice.
17 CURRENT ISSUE Spring 2022 - Issue 17
Welcome to Issue 17 of the Science Museum Group Journal. Here James Mansell et al explore how audiences can engage with sound objects through listening; Sophie Vohra traces the complex meanings behind commemorative celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and Efram Sera-Shriar goes back to the original photographic material to re-examine Harry Price’s famous investigation of spiritualist William Hope. Two space objects are discussed in depth – the Black Arrow rocket (by Doug Millard) and the BepiColombo model (by Abigail McKinnon), while Meredith Greiling reflects on curatorial challenges in collecting contemporary transport. An article by Elizabeth Bruton et al focusing on the Zygalski sheet (a tool developed by Polish code-breakers to help crack the Enigma code) gives this achievement deserved attention, while also considering the role of reconstructed objects within exhibitions. The issue is rounded off with two book reviews – Shelly Saggar’s reflections on Jack Davy’s Native Americans in British Museums, and Sara Stradal’s discussion of Volume 16 in the Studies in the Visual Culture of the Middles Ages (edited by Marcia Kupfer, Adam S Cohen and J H Chajes), which explores the visualisation of knowledge.
Staging listening: new methods for engaging audiences with sound in museums
This article reports on the methodology and findings of the project ‘Sonic Futures: Collecting, Curating and Engaging with Sound at the National Science and Media Museum’. The article argues that engaging with listening audiences can diversify and enrich museum listening scenarios.
Photographic plates and spirit fakes: remembering Harry Price’s investigation of William Hope’s spirit photography at its centenary
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Harry Price’s famous investigation into the spirit photography of William Hope in February 1922, this paper explores the surviving records of the case, including printed materials and photographic evidence.
Commemorating the past, shaping the future: the jubilee and centenary celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway
Analysing the jubilee (1875) and centenary (1925) celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, this paper examines the forms and functions of commemoration cultures centred on important moments in this industry’s history.
Seismographs at Eskdalemuir Observatory, 1908–1925: tools for rethinking the origins of international cooperation in seismology
Four seismographs now preserved in the collections of the Science Museum Group were originally installed at Eskdalemuir Observatory, Scotland, between 1908 and 1925. By attending to their provenance, this paper reconsiders the role of John Milne in forging international cooperation in seismology.
A long engagement – railways, data and the information age
Despite the steam locomotive being the persistent image of railway history, this article aims to show that the railway’s early use of electrical technology within its business systems meant it was in closer alignment with the emergence of computer technology and its forebears than is usually assumed.
Philanthropy, industry and the city of Manchester: the impact of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s philanthropy on Manchester’s built environment
An exploration of the buildings philanthropically funded by Sir Joseph Whitworth’s legacy and their impact on the development of Manchester’s built environment.
‘Your body is full of wounds’: references, social contexts and uses of the wounds of Christ in Late Medieval Europe
The wounds of Christ was an immensely popular motif in Late Medieval Europe. This collaborative essay discusses three different instances where the iconography is adapted to respond to the devotional and practical needs of the diverse and changing audiences.
Lyon Playfair: chemist and commissioner, 1818–1858
This article explores Lyon Playfair's life between 1818 and 1858, from his birth to his appointment as Professor of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh.
Curating Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries
The curators of Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries reflect on their experiences of creating these significant new displays at the Science Museum in London.