Hands-on-History: The history of interactivity and the development of the science museum as mediator and medium of the knowledge society (main project of Heisenberg-Stelle, continued)


The history of scientific and technological modernity as the formative culture of the Western world is both a history of experience and a history of mediation - and thus above all a history of media. Instead of looking at print or audiovisual media, the project focuses on the exhibition medium with its qualities of directness, materiality and interactivity. Since the French Revolution, the Museum of Science has repeatedly been set in motion as a "political machine" to generate images of science and recruit engineers. Interactivity became the tool to catch the "technological citizen" and to commit him or her to participate in society's challenges. Since the late 1960s, the interactive Science Center has sparked new enthusiasm for the phenomena of science, but did not take it so seriously with its history and side effects. Today, on the other hand, the citizen is supposed to discuss future paths with politicians in the "participatory museum" and thus help to legitimize them.
On closer examination, it quickly becomes clear that the fashionable concept of interactivity is anything but well defined, and that it rather combines many, sometimes contradictory layers of meaning. In the course of a hands-on history, which looks at the use of demonstration models and interactive forms of presentation in science museums, exhibitions and science centres for the 20th century and traces their mobility both institutionally and geographically, a historicisation of the concept of interactivity will also be undertaken. In this way, an attempt will be made to expand the discussion on the "politics of display" of individual objects or exhibitions to include general mechanisms and to reveal historical developments in the interlocking of the mediation media of science on the one hand and politics or society on the other.

The history of scientific and technological modernity as the formative culture of the Western world is both a history of experience and a history of mediation - and thus above all a history of media. Instead of looking at print or audiovisual media, the project focuses on the exhibition medium with its qualities of directness, materiality and interactivity. Since the French Revolution, the Museum of Science has repeatedly been set in motion as a "political machine" to generate images of science and recruit engineers. Interactivity became the tool to catch the "technological citizen" and to commit him or her to participate in society's challenges. Since the late 1960s, the interactive Science Center has sparked new enthusiasm for the phenomena of science, but did not take it so seriously with its history and side effects. Today, on the other hand, the citizen is supposed to discuss future paths with politicians in the "participatory museum" and thus help to legitimize them.
On closer examination, it quickly becomes clear that the fashionable concept of interactivity is anything but well defined, and that it rather combines many, sometimes contradictory layers of meaning. In the course of a hands-on history, which looks at the use of demonstration models and interactive forms of presentation in science museums, exhibitions and science centres for the 20th century and traces their mobility both institutionally and geographically, a historicisation of the concept of interactivity will also be undertaken. In this way, an attempt will be made to expand the discussion on the "politics of display" of individual objects or exhibitions to include general mechanisms and to reveal historical developments in the interlocking of the mediation media of science on the one hand and politics or society on the other.

Principal Investigators
Schirrmacher, Arne PD Dr. (Details) (History of Science Specializing in History of Education and Organisation of Knowledge in the 19th and 20th Century)

Duration of Project
Start date: 08/2019
End date: 12/2022

Publications
Arne Schirrmacher: Das Wissenschaftsmuseum als „politische Maschine“ und seine Transformation im 20. Jahrhundert, Acta historica Leopoldina 74 (2019), S. 107-132.

Arne Schirrmacher: North-American World's Fairs and the Re-Invention of the Science Museum in the 1960s, in: Canadelli, Elena/Beretta, Marco/Ronzon, Laura: Behind the Exhibit. Displaying Science and Technology at World's Fairs and Museums in the Twentieth Century, Washington: Smithsonian 2018, S. 158-181.

Last updated on 2022-15-04 at 07:05