XXVII Scientific Instrument Symposium
SIC Annual Meeting 2008, September 16-21
Museum of Science, University of Lisbon, Portugal




Exhibition Workshop

Monday, 15 September, 15.00 to 18.00
Stephen Johnston, Museum of the History of Science

Many curators enter the field through interest in a particular subject area and may only gradually become involved with exhibition work. Within larger institutions, exhibition design is often in the hands of internal or external design staff. Developing experience and skills can therefore be a slow and unstructured process, yet is clearly vitally important.

The workshop is offered as a free optional extra for interested SIC participants. Focused on practical activities, it complements the conference theme of "Heritage and Society". It will provide an informal opportunity both to engage with real projects at a formative stage and to collaborate with international colleagues.

Participants are encouraged to submit an exhibition idea or problem in advance. A selection of these will be used as the basis for small group work in the main part of the workshop. The objective is to tackle real world problems, share experience and hopefully have fun at the same time.

Workshop outline:

  • introductions (15 mins)
  • warm-up activity (45 mins): divide into small groups, visit Natural History Museum next door and report back on your experiences as lay visitors
  • break (20 mins)
  • group work on participants' exhibition plans. Each group will have a lead contributor whose exhibition project has been selected in advance. The lead person presents their project - space, audience, themes, objects, display resources, personnel, budget (10 mins) - and each group will develop ideas and solutions (1 hour)
  • report back from within each group (20 mins)
  • final discussion (10 mins)


  • to register, email Stephen Johnston (stephen.johnston(at)mhs.ox.ac.uk) by 22 August with your name, institutional affiliation and a very brief outline of your exhibition experience (where applicable). These details will be available on a sheet issued to participants at the workshop. Registration is limited to 20 participants and places will be allocated on a “first come, first served” basis.
  • those participants who would like to act as a lead contributor in the main part of the workshop should email a one paragraph outline of their exhibition proposal/problem to Stephen Johnston by 5 September.


Navigation Instruments

Wednesday, 17 September, 13.00 to 15.00
Saturday, 20 September, 13.00 to 14.00
José Manuel Malhão Pereira, Centre of the History of Science, Lisbon

This workshop is intended as an opportunity to provide a sense of the practical difficulties involved in the use of early navigation instruments. Participants will be stimulated to use replicas of historical instruments and make some typical measurements.

At the Museum's terrace, overlooking Lisbon, participants will receive a brief introduction on the operating principles of some instruments - kamal, quadrant, astrolabe, astronomical ring, Jacob's staff, hanging quadrant, astrolabe with angular alidade, horizontal instrument, instrument of shadows by Nunes, Portuguese azimuth compass - and execute several measurements.

  • Fee: 15 euros (paid with registration fee)
  • Participants will be divided between the two sessions
  • Sandwiches and refreshments will be provided
  • Further information: sic2008(at)museus.ul.pt



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