2021 writing prize for early career scholars

Remember to prepare your papers now for submission to the 2021 Science Museum Group Journal writing prize for early career scholars and professionals! The deadline for next year’s competition is 1 March 2021. A first prize of £500 is awarded annually to the author of the best original research article which addresses research questions around history of science, heritage, exhibitions, communications and public engagement. We also aim to publish winning papers in the Journal so this is a great chance for early career scholars to make a splash. Further details about the writing prize are available here

Issue 13

Issue 13 appears in the midst of an epidemic, when it seems important to remind ourselves not only that normal functions of research and publication are continuing but that digital channels such as this Journal have the power to reach scholars and readers across the world who are cut off from the social sites of libraries, museums and universities.

This issue reminds us of the richness of our cultural spaces and the research relating to them. Three articles here are concerned with objects within exhibitions: a conversation among curators and researchers explores the politics behind the redisplay of the ‘Blue Whale’ at the Natural History Museum, while Stewart Emmens describes the development process behind the ‘Wounded’ exhibition at the Science Museum. Our writing-prize winner Daniel Belteki takes a more biographical route, tracing the journey of an astronomical model from creation through various displays to its deaccession. Other articles shine a light directly on objects and collections: reflecting on her research on the Science Museum’s collection of vision aids, Gemma Almond discusses the value of large, anonymous and often uncatalogued collections to researchers; meanwhile, Jason Bate shows how the Royal Society of Medicine became active in lantern projection, circulation and popularisation as a scientific teaching practice in First World War Britain. Within this open issue we present a collection of papers celebrating the work of recently retired senior curator Robert Bud. With an introductory essay on methods of curating by Tim Boon, distinguished authors take aspects of Roberts work and interests and explore their wider influence: Helmuth Trischler discusses the acceptance of the role of material culture in historical studies, Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent looks at the use of the term ‘applied science’ in historical studies in France, Jeff Sturchio explores the use of chemistry in Kenneth Mees’s work at Eastman Kodak, while Alison Boyle looks at the ways that Robert influenced contemporary collecting at the Science Museum. Three literature reviews and an exhibition review of St Fagans National Museum of History in Wales complete this issue. We publish it with particular thanks to authors, reviewers and staff who have worked so hard to meet deadlines in difficult circumstances.

Issue 14

Through the sterling work of Guest Editor Sarah Wade over the early months of the pandemic, we are in a position to publish Issue 14 of the SMG Journal soon. Due out in December/January, this special Medicine Issue celebrates the opening of the Science Museum’s suite of medicine galleries. With this as the starting point, the issue takes a practice-based approach, exploring aspects of the collection and display of medicine and drawing on the often less-accessible experiences, reflections and knowledge of curators and artists rather than the academy. Find out about the challenges, and insights gained by curators of the Wellcome Trust’s Misbehaving bodies exhibition, the international ‘Contagious Cities’ project and from the Science Museum Medicine team. As one of Sarah’s ongoing research interests, the role of art in medical display features strongly here, as does a consideration of the way museums think about diverse audiences in, for example, Manon Parry’s discussion of trends in the representation of diverse and disabled people in medical displays, Brenda Malone’s reflection on a rapid response project collecting objects associated with the Irish anti-abortion referendum, and in Jörn Wolters exploration of changes in the memorialization of people affected by AIDS.



Our congratulations goes to Tom Everrett for receiving the Canadian Museums Association 2020 Award of Outstanding Achievement for Research (science sector) for his article Writing sound with a human ear: reconstructing Bell and Blake’s 1874 ear phonautograph, which was published in Issue 12 of the Journal.

Books and articles

The highlight publication of Autumn 2018 was Being Modern: The cultural impact of science in the early twentieth century. Edited by the Science Museum Group’s own Research Keeper Robert Bud, along with co-editors Paul Greenhalgh, Frank James and Morag Shiach,and published by UCL Press, this major book was launched at the Science Museum in October 2018. It is the result of over three years of detailed collaborative research exploring the ways in which engagement with science has been seen as emblematic of modernity.Addressing the breadth of cultural forms in Britain and the western world from the architecture of Le Corbusier to working-class British science fiction, Being Modern paints a rich picture. Seventeen distinguished contributors from a range of fields including the cultural study of science and technology, art and architecture, English culture and literature examine the issues involved. You can purchase Being Modern here

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Recently published by Uniform Press is For Science, King & Country, edited by Roy MacLeod, Russell G Egdell and Elizabeth Bruton, the Science Museum’s Curator of Technology and Engineering. Killed in action at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles Campaign of 1915, aged just twenty-seven, Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley was widely regarded as the most promising British physicist of his generation. His pioneering measurements of X-ray spectra provided a firm basis for the concept of atomic number and re-cast the periodic table of the elements into its modern form. Had he survived, he seemed destined to win a Nobel Prize.

This book is a commemoration of Moseley’s life, work and legacy in which thirteen historians and scientists chart his experience of Manchester and Oxford; his military service; the reception of his work by the scientific community; and the impact of his work upon X-ray spectroscopy in physics, chemistry, and materials science. The book is available here.

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Invitation to contribute to the Journal

We invite scholars and museum professionals to submit original research, discussion or review papers relating to subjects that chime with the interests of the Science Museum Group and the wider science museum community for forthcoming issues of the Journal. Issue 15 (Spring 2021) has a deadline of 30 September 2020. Submission guidelines are provided on the ‘How to submit’ pages of the JournalIf you have general questions about article submission or if you would like to contribute an article, discussion or review piece please don’t hesitate to contact the editorial team at


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The Dana Research Centre and Library

The Dana Research Centre is located in the Wellcome Wolfson Building at the rear of the Science Museum, in South Kensington, London. Opened in 2016, the Dana Research Centre aims to promote the Science Museum as an important centre for scholarly research and it is home to the Museum’s Research & Public History Department, and to the Museum’s students and funded research projects. The Centre also provides a library with a selection of books and journals, a reading room and public access to the Science Museum’s electronic resources. Here the public can access and order items from the Museum’s extensive and rich library and archive collections stored at Wroughton (the Group’s large storage facility near Swindon). Do come and visit us to pick up a library card and browse the collection. More details, including the address can be found here. General questions about Library aspects may be directed to, and more general research programme enquiries to

Collaborative Doctoral Awards

Six projects within the Science Museums and Archives Consortium  (SMAC) start this year, including projects on the design mediation and consumption of Kenwood’s kitchen appliances, collecting the boundaries of art in the Science Museum, and, at the National Railway Museum, Between Worlds: Kenneth Cantlie and locomotive engineering in Africa, the Americas and Asia. 18 applications to the 2020 CDP round are now being assessed. We do recognize the challenges the pandemic presents to students, and their university and SMAC supervisors, and are working with other heritage partners to support them through this difficult time.

The Museum recently received AHRC Follow-on Funding for the project, Communicating Time and Culture. This builds on the findings of the original project Time, Culture and Identity, a collaboration between the Science Museum and the Palace Museum, China. It will fund a series of cultural events associated with the upcoming exhibition Zimingzhong: Clockwork Treasures from China’s Forbidden City and will allow us to engage different audience segments with the displays.

Please contact us at if you wish to develop a proposal for future deadlines. Further details about the doctoral awards is given on the Science Museum’s Research and Public History webpages here. 

Research Seminars

The Science Museum’s Research & Public History department continues to support a range of workshops, conference and seminars. Full details of all future seminars will be published here soon.


Keep up to date with all the latest research news, events and SMG Journal articles by following us on twitter: @SMGresearch