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Pickstone Lecture 2024

by | Dec 13, 2023 | Events, News | 0 comments

In 2024 it will be 10 years since the passing of John Pickstone. To mark this sad anniversary, and to ensure the legacy of John’s extraordinarily varied contributions to our understanding of science, technology and medicine, past and present, his colleagues at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM) have decided to host a Pickstone Lecture.

The inaugural lecture will take place on Monday, 15 April 2024, 5pm, in the Samuel Alexander Lecture Theatre, Samuel Alexander Building. We are delighted to announce that our speaker will be John’s colleague and friend, Dr. Sam Alberti, Director of Collections at the National Museums Scotland. Sam’s talk is entitled “Ways of Knowing in the Museum.”

We very much hope that you will be able to attend, and that you will help us spread the word through your networks. It would be fitting to have a diverse audience to celebrate the work of a man of such diverse interests. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with CHSTM’s director Carsten Timmermann ( or the head of the organising committee Ian Burney (

Attendance is free, but please follow this link to register.

First Pickstone Lecture

15 April 2024, 5pm BST
Samuel Alexander Lecture Theatre, Samuel Alexander Building (Building No 67 on the interactive campus map)

Or join us online:

Sam Alberti, National Museums Scotland & University of Stirling

“Ways of Knowing in the Museum”

Museums attract millions of people (six feature in the top 10 most visited attractions in the UK). But as well as communicating, their collections remain important resources for generating knowledge. John Pickstone was long fascinated by museums and closely involved with them throughout his career. Forty years ago, he articulated a ‘museological science’ as part of his ongoing ambition to construct a historical sociology of science, technology and medicine. An event in his honour is therefore a timely opportunity to reflect on contemporary assessments and historical understandings of the role of museums in research and vice versa. From the beguiling juxtapositions in cabinets of curiosity, through museum collections’ high watermark during the payday of Empire, to the high-tech efforts of museums today, curators and others have studied the objects in their care. Past and present examples from across the disciplinary spectrum may illuminate the changing role of collections in generating new understandings of nature and culture. Can we discern a distinct way of knowing in the museum?

Samuel JMM Alberti FRSE is Director of Collections at National Museums Scotland, and an Honorary Professor in Heritage Studies at the University of Stirling. Trained in history of science, he taught at the University of Manchester before working at the intersection of museums and universities for twenty years, first at the Manchester Museum, then as Director of Museums and Archives at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He has also held visiting research appointments in London, Philadelphia, and Edinburgh. Sam’s recent practice has focussed on the role of museums in the climate emergency and on Cold War museology (he is currently Principal Investigator on the AHRC project, ‘Materialising the Cold War’).



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