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MUSEUM SPACES AND SPACES OF SCIENCE. REFLECTIONS ON THE EXPLANATORY POSSIBILITIES OF HISTORY OF SCIENCE COLLECTIONS

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title ABSTRACT /title

Historians of science have been discussing the degree to which local scientific and social practices and circumstances may be taken into account before 'the history of science' as a coherent narrative implodes. This article argues that museum curators face related issues, albeit of a more complicated order, when deciding how to present historical scientific instruments. A number of these issues are discussed here. One of them concerns 'functional isometry', a term that refers to the ability of an historical instrument to perform its original functions also within the museum. It is shown that 'functional isometry' tends to disappear between the early modern and the modern period, just as the self-explanatory capacity of scientific instruments generally decreases. Indeed, there appears to be a discontinuity between early modern and modern instruments with regard to their ability to be exhibited in their functional context. This article concludes on a reflection on the implication of these findings for science museums.

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/content/journals/10.1163/182539105x00051
2005-01-01
2016-12-09

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