12 Autumn 2019 Issue 12

Cyclist with high wheeler bicycle in the late nineteenth century

The Science Museum Group is almost unique in that it is itself an object of research, it produces its own research (by itself and in collaboration), and it is a resource for others conducting research. Issue 12 reflects this variety. Collaborative projects feature in a number of articles. Taking a ‘micro-fellowship’ at the National Railway Museum as a case study, Anna Geurts and Oliver Betts discuss how museum/academic partnerships can work better. A mini-collection of papers on ‘Technologies of Romance’ showcases a collaboration between the Science Museum and Central St Martins University of the Arts where different disciplinary approaches to the interaction between technology and human society collide. Meanwhile, Anna Woodham and Elizabeth Haines describe yet another collaboration: a joint Science Museum Group/King's College London study on the role of enthusiast expert groups as ambassadors for stored collections. Other papers in this issue reflect museum practice internationally: Tacye Phillipson’s article describes a statistical analysis of collecting at National Museums Scotland, while Tom Everett discusses the challenges of replicating Alexander Graham Bell and Clarence J Blake’s ear phonautograph for Sound by Design, a new permanent gallery at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. From outside the museum world Sara Dominici presents fascinating research on the parallel development of the bicycle and the camera and its impact on the modern mobile gaze. In a paper showing the richness of archival research, Hannah Bower analyses a series of editions of an eighteenth-century pamphlet on treating scrofula, showing how they illuminate the fluid relationships between readers and authors, patients and experts. The Issue is completed by a review of a new book on James Watt, and an exhibition review of a ‘de-colonised’ gallery at the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Belgium.