Metabolic Collections

Museums hold collections of historical objects for three main purposes: to preserve the heritage of particular fields of human knowledge and activity; to use those objects to communicate about those fields; and to better understand those fields by researching the use, properties, and theories of their objects.

Yet in the past few decades, museums of science and technology have struggled to know what, how, and why to collect from contemporary laboratories and clinics. The objects are not obviously “good for exhibitions,” are often either cheap and disposable or extremely valuable, and are rarely donated when they become obsolete. As the nature of science changes to become more international, interdisciplinary, and collaborative, it is also hard to use the theoretical frameworks of the past to organize “collections.”

Specific projects starting from 2018 include:

  1. Delivering a novel picture of the material heritage of metabolic research, connecting museum, laboratory, and clinical objects to the materiality of everyday life with metabolic conditions.
  2. In doing so, delivering new theoretical and practical knowledge about how “collections” in the area of biomedical research can be conceptualized.
  3. Contributing to preserving the material heritage of Center research for the exhibitions of tomorrow, making new acquisitions in close collaboration with Center scientists.

The research area is coordinated by curator Niels Christian Bech Vilstrup, who has extensive expertise in the curatorial and collection aspects of the program’s work.