Curating Science Symposium

  • Date:

Nathan Bodington Chamber
Parkinson Building
University of Leeds

A symposium co-ordinated by the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage, the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies and the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science and in association with the University of Leeds Cultural Institute.

Symposium registration and refreshments

Symposium, papers and discussion
Speakers include Dr Tim Boon (Head of Research & Public History, The Science Museum), Dr Robert Knifton (School of Critical Studies and Cultural Industries Kingston University) and representatives from The Superposition.


The symposium will be followed by a public lecture:

Public Lecture, ‘At the crossroads of art, technology and society’
Horst Hörtner, Ars Electronica Futurelab

Wine reception

Download the full programmme here.

‘To curate’ is an act which no longer belongs only to art galleries and museums (draft OED addition 2011). As content and consumer choices have increased, so too has the importance of surveying, understanding, selecting, juxtaposing, interpreting, presenting and initiating dialogue, processes that might collectively be considered ‘curation’. An act of curation promises precisely not to communicate ‘everything’ or ‘all’, instead offering a selection that makes sense or crystalizes something from a complex field. Curating seeks its validity in the quality of what can be thought and felt through selection and juxtaposition, in the ability to create interest and in the extent to which it solicits engaged participation. As curating is applied to collections and to the material and visual aspects of science, technology and medicine, questions arise about the relationship of artefacts to the intangible: to ideas, states and experiences.

The Curating Science Symposium explores the implications of bringing ‘curation’ into relationship with science and the way it has been theorized through social, historical and philosophical perspectives. Science is often celebrated in policy rhetoric as fact, as problem solving and as holding the future. Yet histories and philosophies of science, technology and medicine and Science and Technology Studies have complicated any simple sense in which science reveals the truth of nature, showing how many of the participants – framed broadly to include people, materialities, things, forces and ideas – are in co-productive relationships and are intermeshed and entangled in any claim to validity.

In this symposium we will identify productive and innovative curatorial practices that engage scientific understandings of the world. These might include:

  • The interrelations of art and science
  • The implications of combining and working across digital and real world platforms and spaces
  • The role of curation in making available ideas and knowledge for democratic engagement
  • Transdisciplinary approaches to addressing current issues facing the world (climate change, poverty, migration)
  • The place of an expanded reading of participation (people, things, ideas) in informing curatorial approaches

The symposium will host case studies of new curatorial initiatives and academic interventions. The afternoon will create workshop space to identify key issues and potentials raised by combining ‘curation’ and ‘science’.

This event is particularly aimed at aimed at curators, interpreters, artists, researchers and students interested in the intersection between art and science and culture and technology.

To book a place at the Curating Science Symposium and/or the Public Lecture, contact:

Image: United Colors of Dissent, 2013: part of Connecting Cities – a network of urban media façades. Credit: Tom Mesic.