By Richard Nicholls
The Spring 2017 issue of the Science Museum Group Journal is on the theme of Sound and Vision. Read it online here: http://journal.sciencemuseum.org.uk/issues/spring-2017/
Issue 07 of the Journal collects scholarly articles from research related to sound and vision from across the Group. Several of these focus on sound and visual elements within collections, most of which are in store rather than on display. James Mooney, for example, discusses sound objects in the collection of composer Hugh Davies, while Joanne Gooding looks at a collection of NHS glasses through the lens of design. Melissa Dickson’s article takes a single historical object – the Ammoniaphone – and looks at how contemporary claims for its effectiveness tell us much about Victorian thinking about science and the voice. Phillip Roberts, meanwhile, uses a detailed case-study, that of Philip Carpenter, to demonstrate the move of early instrument makers into the commercially lucrative production of scientific visual toys (such as kaleidoscopes and magic lanterns).
Many of these articles (and the Sound and Vision theme) came out of the inaugural Research Conference in September 2016. They are in part published now to mark the re-launch of the newly named Science and Media Museum in March. Director Jo Quinton-Tulloch introduces the issue and rightly draws attention to the importance of the Journal in discussing the impact of museums and institutional practice on culture and society. Several articles address this historically – for example, Jennifer Rich on the history of how the Science Museum has used sound in interpreting exhibits, or James Mansell on the wider social and political issues at stake within the 1935 Noise Abatement exhibition. But the issue also reflects on more recent developments with articles by Elizabeth Edwards, Ben Burbridge and Michael Terwey providing different perspectives on the move to a more STEM-focused approach at the Science and Media Museum in Bradford.
In addition, we have a review of the new Science and Technology galleries at National Museums Scotland, and a book review of Nicholas Thomas’s The Return of Curiosity. For a 20% discount on the book see the news pages of the Journal.