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Inventing Europe online – and on tour!

October 21, 2012

Showing the new, *live* Inventing Europe in Tampere

Inventing Europe is now online, live at www.inventingeurope.eu.

The online exhibition, inspired by the forthcoming Making Europe book series, explores a new kind of European history by following the paths of technology from the dawn of railways and telegraphs to the present day.  The exhibition was built in collaboration with 10 cultural heritage institutions from across Europe, and links objects from their collections and other selected materials together in a series of ‘tours’ through the transnational developments of technology and the people, things and ideas that have shaped these developments.

This has been the collaborative work of two years, its form developed last year while I was at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study, and the tours and design adapted into its present form over the year that followed.  We have tried to give both the flavour of the stories developed by the book authors as well as the fascinating stories of the individual objects held in the collection of our partners.  It has been a long – and very rewarding – process of listening and learning.  We hope to have passed that process on in the various voices that appear within the exhibition.

In the coming months, we are taking the show on the road, and giving talks at a range of venues.

We went live in time to present the exhibit at the CIMUSET conference in Tampere, Finland, August 28-31.   My talk “Networking the flexible platform”  (with shoutouts to Douglas Adams and Wallace Stevens) focussed on the ways in which such a platform can be used to serve the different needs and uses of various stakeholders.  One of the key points is that this networking is an ongoing process as we explore the uses to which these stories can be put – both by the heritage partners, researchers – and our new initiative in university education.

At the start of October, we met at the Tensions of Europe meeting in Copenhagen.  Tensions of Europe is the research network, started 10 years ago, which formed the impetus and basis for both Making Europe and Inventing Europe.  There,  my colleage Suzanne Lommers and I presented the education initiative to those assembled.

Four days later, I was at the Artefacts Consortium meeting at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh.   This was a wonderful combination – Artefacts is an association mostly of museum curators, and the talk there comprise both histories and current practices of display of science and technology, next to the histories of science and technology.   And it was fascinating exploring  the strange collection of the national museum of Scotland – whose collection hardly seems national at all, a lot of the time (though their Scottish social history wing is very good indeed).  Indeed, their remit is ‘everything except flat art and plants’ (because those are handled by the national gallery and the botanic gardens, respectively).  I could talk for a long time about the many talks there – lots of communication history – from mobile phones in Cameroon to the Rugby Coil – plus great talks on  displays of anatomy, Rabbie Burns’s guitar (no, really), Otto Neurath, etc.    What’s most inspiring about talking to museum curators is the open and cordial way in they are critical of their own work, far more than in other academic circles.  (And I strongly suspect they have a lot of fun…)

Coming up, I will be giving a talk at a symposium by the Stichting Academisch Erfgoed called “De gevoelige plat” about photo collections on October 29, 2012.  I will be talking about the problems and possibilities of photography in representing science and technology, and in particular the new pressures of the digital environment.

And at the start of December, I will be heading back to Scotland, this time to Glasgow, for the MeLa initiative’s international conference “Migrating heritage: networks and collaborations across European museums,libraries and public cultural institutions“.

But don’t take my word for it – come and have a look around and if you like what you see, please like what you see

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 3, 2012 7:44 pm

    Reblogged this on hist.tech and commented:
    We are finally online!

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