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Developing local narratives for objects in national collections: lessons learned from the “Number Please? Working with the Enfield Exchange” project

Geoghegan, H., McIlvenna, K. and van der Vaart, M. (2017) Developing local narratives for objects in national collections: lessons learned from the “Number Please? Working with the Enfield Exchange” project. Curator: The Museum Journal, 60 (2). pp. 217-233. ISSN 2151-6952

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/cura.12201

Abstract/Summary

Museums of science, technology, and engineering are developing new ways of interpreting and displaying their collections. Increasingly objects are being placed within narratives of everyday use; the human side of technology. The focus of this article is a section of one of the last UK manual telephone switchboards, which was acquired by the Science Museum, London, following its decommissioning in 1960. This artifact offers a unique insight into a communication technology that relied extensively on female telephonists, a distinct way of understanding gender roles in the twentieth century. The authors explore strategies for developing local narratives for objects from national collections and reflect on lessons learned from a cross-institutional collaboration. This article highlights: the value of local historians, community events and oral histories to developing local narratives; how these activities informed understandings of the telephone switchboard; work life in the communications industry; the relationship between women and technology; and practical strategies that can enhance collections and museum practice through collaboration.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:71744
Publisher:Wiley

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