Final Programme: Object Lessons and Nature Tables

Object Lessons and Nature Tables: Research Collaborations Between Historians of Science and University Museums

University of Reading, 23 September 2016, 9:30 to 17:30

Venue: Special Collections and Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5EX, UK

(click here to see venue on Google Maps)

Accessibility Information:  The venue has a step-free entrance with an automatic door, fully accessible WCs on the ground floor and the first floor, and there is disabled visitor parking. The conference takes place on the first floor, with lunch and teas served on the ground floor: there is an elevator between these two floors. An induction loop is available, but please let us know by Monday 19 September if you wish to use this facility as it will need to be set up specifically. Microphones will not be used at the conference.


The morning sessions of the conference are devoted to ‘object animations’, where actual collections objects and their research potential will be explored by speakers who will also be demonstrating their methods and techniques.

We have an expert panel with Professor Simon Schaffer and Professor David Gaimster, who will be sharing collaborative research methodologies.

The afternoon sessions of 20 minute papers will further deepen our understanding of how to work across collecting institutions and the academy by exploring institutional initiatives, museums as catalysts for sustained interdisciplinarity, and epistemic techniques.

Tune in on the day via social media: hashtag #HSTMobjects 


Object Lessons and Nature Tables

9:30-9:45   Registration and refreshments: please remember to bring your registration fee in cash and to leave enough time for payment – official receipts will be given

9:45-10:00   Welcome, Introduction and Housekeeping, with convenors Martha Fleming and Rohan Deb Roy



10:00   Panel One: From Electricity to Electronics
(Chair: Martha Fleming, Reading)

Charlotte Connelly (Cambridge): Untangling Ohm’s Apparatus
Stefan Hoeltgen (Berlin): Open (the) Architectures: A hands-on approach to media and computer theory with operative archaeology

10:50-11:00   COMFORT BREAK

11:00   Panel Two: Waxworks
(Chair: Josh Nall, Cambridge)

Jenny Bulstrode (Cambridge): Wax on wax off: A Matter of Method
Victoria Asschenfeldt [and Henrik Essler] (Hamburg): You Can Only See What You Know?  Wax Moulages – Epistemic objects in research and education now and then

11:50   Panel Three: Around Creatures
(Chair: Oliver Douglas, MERL)

Alexander Bowmer (London/Reading): Where There is No Vet – Management of Animal Health in their Own Hands
Geoffrey Hancock (Glasgow): The Ellis Barnacle in the Hunterian Collection

12:40-13:30   LUNCH



Top Tips for Collaborative Research Practice between historians of science and museum and collection colleagues (Co-Chairs Martha Fleming and Rohan Deb Roy)

Simon Schaffer, Professor of the History of Science, University of Cambridge
David Gaimster, Professor and Director of the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow



14:00   Panel Four: Bigger Picture Institutional Developments
(Chair: Nicky Reeves, Glasgow)

Marie Luisa Allemeyer (Goettingen): The Forum Wissen: Goettingen University’s project to (re-) activate its academic collections
Sébastien Soubiran and Delphine Issenman (Strasbourg): Experimenting with new paths for a social and cultural mediation of science at the Jardin des Sciences
Henry McGhie (Manchester): Working with history at Manchester Museum: past, present, future

15:10-15:30   TEA

15:30   Panel Five: Animals are Good to Think With
(Chair: Rohan Deb Roy, Reading)

Mark Carnall (Oxford): Putting the Museum back into Natural History Museums
Rosanna Evans [and Henry Schmidt, Liba Taub] (Cambridge): Is it the international year of the frog?  How a well-used teaching model can be a catalyst for new research

16:20   Panel Six: Epistemic Instruments
(Chair: Mike Finn, Leeds (TBC))

Emily Akkermans (Edinburgh): Retracing historical practices at sea: navigating between instruments and archival materials
Jenny Nex (Edinburgh): Instruments of Science and of Music –  The tradition of teaching acoustics at the University of Edinburgh and the collection of Professor John Donaldson



The convenors, Dr Martha Fleming and Dr Rohan Deb Roy, would like to thank the peer review committee for their assistance:  Dr Katy Barrett (Curator of Art, pre-1800, Royal Museums Greenwich), Dr Michael Finn (Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Technology & Medicine, University of Leeds), Dr Joshua Nall (Curator of Modern Sciences, Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge), and Dr Nicky Reeves (Curator of Scientific and Medical History Collections, Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow).

This conference is co-produced and supported by the Centre for Collections Based Research and the Department of History of the University of Reading, with generous funding from the British Society for the History of Science in the form of a Conference Grant.


Delegate Information: Dining in Reading

There is no official conference dinner, but we hope that delegates will take advantage of the conference to meet and exchange with each other socially as well as during the papers and presentations.

Near the conference venue (Special Collections/ Museum of English Rural Life)  there is a cluster of recommended restaurants where London Street meets the River Kennett.  This area is also on the 21 Bus Route that runs from the train station up to Whiteknights Campus, with the Hillingdon Prince Hotel situated in between, at the Vicarage Road stop !

Global Cafe and Tutu’s Ethiopian Table: Reading International Solidarity Centre, 35-39 London Street, Reading RG1 4PS  (good vegetarian option, inexpensive £10-15)

Brown’s Brasserie, along the riverside in the Oracle Centre (moderately priced £15-20)

Cote Brasserie, along the riverside in the Oracle Centre (moderately priced £15-20)

London Street Brasserie, 2-4 London Street (overlooking the river), Reading RG1 4PN (upmarket £20-25)

For pub grub with inside and outside seating, try the Queen’s Head in Christchurch Road not far from the conference venue and the Hillingdon Prince Hotel.  Brazilian, Chinese and Indian food can also be found not far in Whitely Street/Mount Pleasant.  If you are just arriving by train or by Heathrow Rail-Air bus, Carluccio’s is closeby in Forbury Square: its is a reliable and pleasant chain restaurant.

University of Reading Museums and Special Collections

If you are coming to Reading for Object Lesson and Nature Tables you may wish to know about University of Reading Museums and Special Collections !

University of Reading is home to some outstanding collections of exceptional research value, and some of them are open to the public during the conference and the day before. Please visit the websites for more information.

Cole Museum of Zoology (open to the public Monday–Friday 9.30–4.30pm)
Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology (During University vacation times, the Museum will be normally open only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 9.00 am-4.30 pm)
University of Reading Herbarium
Harris Garden, Arboretum and Living Botany Collections
Geology Collections
Lettering, Printing and GraphicDesign Collections, including the Rickards Collections of Ephemera, the Neurath Isotype Collection, and the Non-Latin Typeface Collection
The Museum of English Rural Life (currently closed for redevelopment)
The Archive of British Printing and Publishing (archival deposit; available through the Special Collections Reading Room)
The Samuel Beckett Archive (archival deposit available through the Special Collections Reading Room)
Fine Art Collections (currently undergoing cataloguing)