Video: Connecting with Collections Symposium
Updated: May 13, 2020
I was pleased to be able to speak at (and help organise) the Connecting with Collections Symposium a few weeks ago. That event showcased some of the work that was done as part of the AHRC-funded Connecting with Collections internship scheme.
The day went pretty well, I think. For those that weren’t able to make it, I have put a recording of my presentation together with the slides I used, to create a lovely video which summarises the research I did during my internship. I hope you enjoy watching it! As always, I’d be very grateful for any feedback in the Comments section.
Below the video you can find the abstract of my paper. And if you’re interested in some of the themes it raises, why not check out the Symposium keynote address by Sam Alberti, Director of the Hunterian Museum, on the Connecting with Collections blog?
“King Arthur’s Table” is not a table, nor has it anything to do with King Arthur. It is a twentieth-century reconstruction of a fourteenth-century astronomical instrument: a planetary equatorium described in a manuscript attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer. Conceived by historian of science Derek Price as a huge, tangible realisation of Chaucerian astronomy for Cambridge’s then-newly-opened Whipple Museum of the History of Science, it was displayed, discarded, stored, catalogued with that rather whimsical name, and finally rediscovered. This paper will use the biography of King Arthur’s Table as a route to understanding the early, inchoate years of both a museum and the discipline of history of science. Its construction in the Cavendish Laboratory, under the patronage of Sir Lawrence Bragg, and its first display at the Royal Society allow it to tell us much about the significant scientific institutions and figures of that period. Intended both as a replica instrument and as an homage to the life and work of a great historical figure, its own life story has reflected changing research priorities and curatorial attitudes, especially concerning reconstructions.