Science Museums in Transition: Cultures of Display in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America

Science Museums in Transition: Cultures of Display in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America


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Science Museums in Transition: Cultures of Display in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America by Carin Berkowitz

Winner, Outstanding Academic Title 2017, Choice Magazine

The nineteenth century witnessed a dramatic shift in the display and dissemination of natural knowledge across Britain and America, from private collections of miscellaneous artifacts and objects to public exhibitions and state-sponsored museums. The science museum as we know it—an institution of expert knowledge built to inform a lay public—was still very much in formation during this dynamic period. Science Museums in Transition provides a nuanced, comparative study of the diverse places and spaces in which science was displayed at a time when science and spectacle were still deeply intertwined; when leading naturalists, curators, and popular showmen were debating both how to display their knowledge and how and whether they should profit from scientific work; and when ideals of nationalism, class politics, and democracy were permeating the museum’s walls.
            Contributors examine a constellation of people, spaces, display practices, experiences, and politics that worked not only to define the museum, but to shape public science and scientific knowledge. Taken together, the chapters in this volume span the Atlantic, exploring private and public museums, short and long-term exhibitions, and museums built for entertainment, education, and research, and in turn raise a host of important questions, about expertise, and about who speaks for nature and for history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822944751
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 06/13/2017
Series: Sci & Culture in the Nineteenth Century Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Carin Berkowitz is the director of the Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. She is the author of Charles Bell and the Anatomy of Reform and of a series of articles on anatomy, images, and objects published in Bulletin of the History of Medicine, BJHS, and History of Science. Berkowitz is an advisory editor for History of Science and Bulletin of the History of Medicine.
Bernard Lightman is professor of humanities at York University and current vice president and president-elect (2018–2019) of the History of Science Society. Among his most recent publications are the edited collections Global Spencerism and A Companion to the History of Science. Lightman is also a general coeditor of The Correspondence of John Tyndall.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction Carin Berkowitz Bernard Lightman 1

Part I Sites of Miscellaneity

1 Science in Regent's Park: The Colosseum Bernard Lightman 13

2 The Permissive Precincts of Barnum's and Goodrich's Museums of Miscellaneity: Lessons in Knowing Nature for New Learners Katherine Pandora 36

Part II Display and Expertise

3 This Post Mortem Palace: Accommodating the Hunterian Museum Samuel J. M. M. Alberti 67

4 Sight and Sites: The National Repository and the Politics of Seeing in Early Nineteenth-Century England Iwan Rhys Morus 87

Part III The Scientist-Showman

5 A Lecture on Locust Street: Morton, Tyndall, Pepper, and the Construction of Scientific Reputation Jeremy Brooker 111

6 Albert Koch's Hydrarchos Craze: Credibility, Identity, and Authenticity in Nineteenth-Century Natural History Lukas Rieppel 139

Part IV The National Museum

7 "A Nursery of Living Thoughts": G. Brown Goode's Vision for a National Museum in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States Pamela M. Henson 165

8 Botany Behind Glass: The Vegetable Kingdom on Display at Kew's Museum of Economic Botany Caroline Cornish 188

Part V The Research Museum

9 The Endless Frontier: Joseph Leidy and the Collaborative Work of Natural History in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America Carin Berkowitz 217

10 Academic Collections: Teaching and Exhibition on Nineteenth-Century American Campuses Sally Gregory Kohlstedt 238

Afterword: Steps to the Encyclopedic Museum John Tresch 261

Notes 279

Selected Bibliography 347

Contributors 353

Index 357

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