Museum Without Walls

A new approach to the concept of a museum is necessary to combat the issues of space and funding facing collections around the world. The Museum Without Walls (MWW) attempts to do this by loaning historical scientific instruments to local high school teachers, university alumni and other science enthusiasts, to be displayed in the classroom or home.

Viscometer. Photographer Prof Michael Gal

Consisting of over 400 objects, the MWW has emerged from its parent collection the Museum of the History of Science (MHS). These objects have been collected over the past 30 years by two retired chemistry lecturers, Dr David Alderdice and Dr Brian Craven. The collection ranges from Abbe refractometers to transmission electron microscopes. It also boasts one of the largest collection of Oertling balances, which have been documented for a publication about L. Oertling. Many of the instruments are chemistry orientated, however, over the years there have been a number of purchases from various auctions and a number of instruments scavenged from “clean outs” such as one hosted by Mt Stromlo Observatory in the 1990’s

Loaning these objects to be displayed in high schools and private homes is of course not the best for conservation, however, objects kept in storage are not fulfilling their purpose. They have no real value unless they are helping to teach people about the history of science, which can only be achieved if they are accessible.

  • Mt Stromlo instrument. Photographer Prof Michael Gal
  • Langmuir Surface Balance brought to UNSW by Prof A.E. Alexander. Photographer Prof Michael Gal
  • Mt Stromolo instrument. Photographer Prof Michael Gal