Museum Revolutions? Science and Technology Display in Central and Eastern Europe, ICHST 2021

Museum Revolutions? Science and Technology Display in Central and Eastern Europe, ICHST 2021

Arne Schirrmacher, Humboldt-Universiät zu Berlin; Jan Surman, HSE, Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities Moscow
Czech Republic
Vom - Bis
25.07.2021 - 31.07.2021
Arne Schirrmacher

Proposals are invited for panels at the upcoming ICHST2021 in Prague (July 25-31, 2021) for the following symposium:

Museum Revolutions? Transformations of Science and Technology Display in Central and Eastern Europe since the 20th Century

Science museums and, more recently, science centres have become a global phenomenon. They have been studied historically for national, cultural and economic developments, however, mostly for Europe and North America, where close transatlantic connections between the institutions existed from the outset. In a first major attempt to delineate the respective museum revolution in Central and Eastern Europe, we consider the full span of the development in the 20th and early 21st century. For example, starting from Moscow's pre-revolutionary and Prague's pre-WW I museums of technology, over postwar science museums (that were established as in Warsaw or just envisioned and planned as in East-Berlin and Budapest) up to the latest openings of science centres in Warsaw and Pilsen, a complex picture will be drawn and scrutinized. As in the case of western museum development 1, major exhibitions may also have affected these museum revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe. In this way, existing scholarship about the communication, dissemination and popularization of science from an internationally comparative perspective (e.g. 2, 3) mostly based on printed media will be extended to the museum medium.

For this goal, contributions are invited from scholars dealing with the history of science, technology and museums as well as from museum studies and museum practitioners that deal with one or more of the following questions:

- What were the main reasons for redesigning or reconceptualizing existing museum exhibits?
- When science and technology museums are "political machines" (T. Bennett), what were the agendas that determined their respective selection of topics and designs?
- To what extent did particular national ways of science and technology presentation dominate, and what role did international cooperation play?
- Did the changes in museum concepts or science display reflect broader changes in the interest of society?
- When and why did the museum complement or replace collections of artefacts with "edufacts", i.e. hands-on, interactive and participatory exhibits?
- Where did science centres replace science museums or instead were incorporated, and was the model (e.g. from the Exploratorium) considered ideological or Western?
- How has the history of presenting science and technology in museums shaped the Central and Eastern European "scientific" cultures, e.g. their narratives of progress and their images of science?

Proposals (an abstract of max 200 words + a short bio) should be sent to panel organizers ( and by Thursday 28th May 2020.

Contributions based on archival and printed sources that go beyond mere institutional histories – especially from early and mid-career scholars – are particularly welcome, while reminiscences by former actors and people involved in the developments may also be given room, without, however, dominating the symposium. As the conference takes place more than a year from now, the abstracts can reflect what the contributors would intend to achieve during the time available.

Support for travel and participation may be offered in select cases for those without recourse to funds from their institution.

1 Elena Canadelli et al. (ed.): Behind the Exhibit. Displaying Science and Technology at World's Fairs and Museums in the Twentieth Century, Smithsonian: Washington 2018.
2 Special Issue "Communicating Science: National Approaches in 20th Century Europe", Science in Context 26 (2013), p. 393-549, ed. by Arne Schirrmacher.
3 Special Issue "Popular Science between News and Education. A European Perspective", Science and Education 21 (2012), S. 289-401, ed. by Arne Schirrmacher.



Arne Schirrmacher

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

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