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Science and music collecting project

Forte Piano? Casio VL-Tone? Electronium? Stratocaster? Revox? What musical objects might be added to the Science Museum’s collections?

For this project the Science Museum searched for people who know about and are passionate about music, musical instruments and the technologies of music to collaboratively develop ideas for the museum’s collections.


Decisions about what to collect have traditionally been taken by curators, making judgments about the importance and significance of objects and whether they can tell a good story. We wanted to experiment with broadening-out the kinds of expertise, ways of knowing, cultures, sub-cultures, memories and experiences which inform the Science Museum’s collecting decisions.


Between January and May 2014, ten of us worked together to get to know the existing collections and procedures and then to conduct research and make a series of recommendations for items that might be added to enhance the music collections.

The project worked on two levels – on the task at hand of developing these recommendations. Alongside this we contributed towards a wider research project ‘How should decisions about heritage be made?’ by asking: What makes a good and legitimate decision in terms of museum collection? Who should be involved? How might different claims, expertise and contributions to museums be democratically enabled?

We hoped to collaborate with people with a wide range of motivations, interests, experiences and knowledge so we asked you to write 300-500 words offering one of the following:

  • An object you think might be added to the Science Museum collections and why
  • A story of your involvement in the music or music technology scene – what insights might this offer
  • Your response to the question ‘what would a democratic museum look like?’


The ‘How should decisions about heritage be made?’ project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and coordinated by the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage at the University of Leeds.

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