The Death of the Machine? Book Now for the ABTEM Autumn Seminar

THE DEATH OF THE MACHINE?  What future for machines in museum collections?

Thursday 3rd November: Dana Centre, Science Museum London

Our Autumn Meeting will look at the current status of industrial machinery in UK museums and ask whether the long-term sustainability of machinery collections could or indeed should be ensured.

The UK’s remaining industrial collections are faced with significant threats to their survival, and these show little sign of abating. Current challenges include:

Ongoing funding cuts, the demise of industrial-collection-specialist curators and conservators, nationwide deindustrialisation and the rapid growth in automation, and education curriculums offering fewer opportunities to learn about industrial machinery.

Will the rise of what has been described as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where emerging technologies begin to blur the lines between the physical and digital realms, cast a shadow over the machines of former industrial ages, and send industrial collections further into obscurity, or can museums embrace the technological revolution to revive and enhance interest in machines that revolutionized the 18th and 19th centuries?

What’s more, should they? With a decline in industrial collecting opportunities and a growing movement for community-driven museums, might there be a case for mothballing machinery collections and focussing on user participation – with increased access initiatives in the form of working-exhibit rides and demonstrations, and tours and activities behind the scenes?

The meeting will also include the ABTEM Annual General Meeting

Provisional Programme

10:00 – Registration, tea, coffee and biscuits

10:45 – Introduction – Jack Kirby (Head of Collections, Science Museum)

11:00 – Tim Bryan (Chair, ABTEM)

‘ABTEM’s Larger and Working Objects Project’

11:30 – Oliver Green, (freelance, former Head Curator, London Transport Museum)

‘Thoughts on the future for industrial & transport museums’

12:00 – Ben Russell (Curator of Mechanical Engineering, Science Museum)

‘The Raid on Raglan: the commemorative role of machines in museums’

12:45 – Lunch

1:45 – Laura Musgrave (former Engagement Officer, Coventry Transport Museum)

‘The redevelopment of Coventry Transport Museum – how people’s stories took centre stage’

2:00 – Daniel Martin (Curator, Museum of Making, Derby)

‘Taking a co-productive approach at the Museum of Making’

2:15 – Open discussion and debate with speakers

3:15 – Tea/coffee/biscuits

3:45 – ABTEM AGM

4:15 – End

To book, please visit: