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Matières à penser : an international and collaborative program on the display of science and the issues it raises

6 Marzo 2015
San Francesco - Via della Quarquonia 1 (Classroom 1 )
Since 2012 a series of events are organized within an international, collaborative project initially supported by the Centre Interdisciplinaire d’Etudes et de Recherches sur l’Allemagne (CIERA): Matières à penser. Les mises en scène des sciences et leurs enjeux, 19e-21e siècles. An interdiciplinary approach was adopted, bringing together exhibition makers and specialists from the history of collections and museums, historians of science and design, historians of culture, specialists of contemporary and past public research policy and science popularization. In our talk we will present the project and its activities, attempt first conclusions on our contribution to these issues and propose directions for further research. The display of science through specially-designed artefacts and devices in spaces deliberately set up for public use is never a neutral enterprise. The universal exhibitions or Uranias of the 19th century, the Deutsches Museum in the 1900s, the Palais de la découverte in interwar Paris, the Atoms for Peace exhibitions of the 1950s or the San Francisco Exploratorium in the 1960s are each the expression of a particular way of conceiving and promoting science and its role in society. Driving each of these intiatives we find a range of actors moved by different convictions: prominent figures of science and industry in the newly-founded German Empire; scientists, administrators and politicians involved in the reorganisation of research in 1930s France; state officials; and a physicist threatened by maccarthyist campaigns. Whether it is build to last or temporary, each new structure dedicated to showing science materializes a specific configuration of science in society and usually involves scientists, administrations, popularizers, museum and exhibition professionals and the publics it addresses. Science displays thus both reflect and contribute to shape the relations between the groups of actors involved.
Bigg, Charlotte
Bergeron , Andrée