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Connecting past, present and future

In general, science museums tend to present the past and science centres focus on the future. Can we combine these two approaches, connecting past, present and future, to deepen our understanding of how science works and what it means for us? Many science museums have rich collections of historical objects, which have traditionally been used to tell stories about the history of science and famous scientists, or to explain basic science principles.

Collections can also be used to provide context for present-day research, treated as research material, or offered to artists and stakeholders as a material context for new perspectives, therefore we would like to discuss with you the link between the two.


Helen Jones
Director of Global Engagement and Strategy
United Kingdom

Session speakers

Rijksmuseum Boerhaave recently underwent a total make-over and was awarded with the title European Museum of the Year 2019. It is a museum of the history of science and medicine. In its new strategy it connects the history -and its world renowned collections- to contemporary science and reflections on the future. Amito will discuss how this strategy is implemented in the new exhibitions and programmes of the museum.
Associate Professor & Curator
Medical Museion & Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen
The Medical Museion won the UMAC-award 2019 with their exhibition Mind the Gut project, a combined exhibition, curatorial experiment, acquisition program, series of public events, and platform for public research and teaching. Louise will tell about Medical Museion’s approach to combining historical collections with contemporary research, situated in philosophical and cultural context. She will give examples of how this reveals continuities and differences, altering our perception of both past and present, and rendering both more strange, aesthetically interesting and open to debate.
Technical Museum of Slovenia
The Technical Museum of Slovenia opened in 2018 the temporary exhibition Knowledge without Frontiers. It was awarded with the national Valvasor Award for unique achievements in the field of museology by the Slovene Museum Society. The exhibition highlights the positive impact of migration on society, and aims to show a strong link between technical and scientific heritage on one side, and cultural and national identity, on the other. Natalija will tell about the active role of museums in response to developments in society by connecting history to the challenges of today.
Utrecht University Museum will close in 2020 for a complete redevelopment. It will transform from a science museum into a research museum. Visitors will become researchers, through interactive exhibits and by participating in citizen science projects. Paul will tell about the new approach and the relation with the historical collections.