I’m head of the Science & Technology department at National Museums Scotland, where we care for, research and engage audiences with objects that include early telephones, nuclear power station control rooms, gene sequencers, and Concorde. We have collaborative doctoral students and other researchers working on the collections, and we collaborate with other museums and universities within and beyond Scotland.
I trained in the history of science and medicine, and became interested in museums as the focus of historical study before working in them – first the Manchester Museum, then at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. The latter houses the Hunterian Museum, based on the collections of John Hunter (brother of William Hunter, whose collections went to Glasgow).
At Manchester I taught museum studies and the history of science, and I’ve since been affiliated with King’s College London (history) and the University of Edinburgh (clinical surgery).
I have worked on exhibitions tackling race; museum history; models; and the First World War. My research has focussed on the history and meaning of collections, for example in Nature and Culture: Objects, Disciplines and the Manchester Museum (MUP, 2009) and Morbid Curiosities: Medical Museums in Nineteenth-Century Britain (OUP, 2011). I’m currently considering the role and potential of science, technology and medical collections since the mid-twentieth century.
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