The anarchic rise of the Science Museum - Christmas talk with mince pies

26 Nov 2013

With Christmas fast approaching, the Construction Materials Group will soon be holding its informal seasonal event. This year, we have teamed up with the London Group and secured the services of Ben Russell, curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum. He will tell the fascinating story behind the creation of the world's pre-eminent museum of science and technology.

The tale of the museum's life will begin with the collections of the Patent Office Museum in the 1850s. The formative decades of its history were haphazard and even chaotic, taking in blackmail, curatorial skulduggery and even unauthorised exhumation! In his talk, Ben will explore the exploits of the museum's director, Bennet Woodcroft, in the museum's first years. In the process, he'll trace some of Woodcroft's adventures, which largely go unrecorded in the official histories of the institution.

Ben initially trained as an economic historian but now works in industrial heritage conservation, and has been curator of the mechanical collections since 2003. He has worked on two permanent galleries, which has included redisplaying James Watt's original workshop, as well as a temporary exhibition, websites and publications. He is currently leading a project to deliver a large exhibition on the history of robots which is scheduled to open in 2015.

The event is free to all and will be held at University College London on the evening of 5 December. Free wine and mince pies will be served along with non-alcoholic drinks.

It promises to be an interesting and entertaining evening!

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