The "Academic Museum" - University collections as spaces of the production, representation and dissemination of knowledge

The workshop focused on university collections, which have so far attracted little scholarly interest in the debate on museums and collections. As a space of scientific self-fashioning and self-affirmation the ‘academic museum’ represents a crucial locale for a new history of science. University collections embody a historical framework of knowledge, delineating academic disciplines and objectifying emerging thought collectives. Their objects facilitate the circulation of knowledge between teacher and student, agents and collectors, curators and visitors.

Göttingen, a key location of the German enlightenment, is an obvious place for the reevaluation of the ‘academic museum’. It hosts more than 30 research collections and museums amongst them the celebrated Cook/Forster collection or the medicinal collections of Albrecht von Haller ranging from natural history to anthropology and from technology to corporate-academic heritage. The scope of these collections calls for an interdisciplinary exchange between distinguished scholars of the new history of science and museology and renowned local researchers. They also suggest an increased collaboration between the natural sciences and the humanities.


The workshop’s presentations spaned the wide range of academic cultures of collecting – from the communication of ‘science’ to exhibition and museum practices. The workshop was organized on 23 and 24 April 2010 by Prof. Dr. Marian Füssel, Dr. Dominik Collet (Department of History) and Dr. Marie Luisa Allemeyer (Göttingen Graduate School for the Humanities). Its aims were the establishment of this new field in Göttingen and the creation of a DFG research network. The workshop is part of „Cognition | Practice | Norm: Different Rationalities in the Cultures of the Sciences and the Humanities.”