CORDIS - EU research results

Scientific Collections on the Move: Provincial Museums, Archives, and Collecting Practices (1800-1950)

Project description

The many dimensions of museum objects provenance

Calls for repatriating museum objects have increased considerably in recent years. The EU-funded SciCoMove project will study the history of scientific collections in palaeontology, anthropology, botany and related applied sciences. Drawing on the most recent historiography of science and scientific collections, the project shifts focus from major to smaller museums to demonstrate a more complex, less centralised and less hierarchical vision of international scientific exchanges. Ultimately, SciCoMove will provide a more accurate account of the many dimensions of science-collecting practices and multilateral contacts between Europe and Latin America. The generated knowledge on objects provenance will enable museums to better respond to social demands, especially concerning repatriation, and help scientists make better use of historical collections in their research.


SciCoMove promotes international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaborations between historians of science, scientists and museum professionals from 9 countries in Latin America and Europe with a view to trace the history of scientific collections in paleontology, anthropology, botany and related applied sciences. Its ambition is to reassess their significance and to develop new historical knowledge applicable to their curatorship, utilization by researchers and communication to the public. Drawing on the most recent historiography of science and scientific collections, SciCoMove focuses on the past, but it addresses current issues faced by science museums regarding repatriation demands and the dialogue with “source communities”. Its originality is based: 1 – on the shift of focus from major to smaller museums in the “provinces” or “peripheries” in order to outline a more complex, less centralized and less hierarchical vision of scientific exchanges; 2 – on a conception of collections as nodes in networks of circulation and as structures producing knowledge, rather than as heritage and conservation institutions. Accordingly, SciCoMove focuses on objects “on the move” and on the scholarly practices and sociability of the agents who made these moves possible. In line with its objective to better account for the multiple dimensions of science collections and for multilateral interchange between Europe and Latin America, SciCoMove promotes collaborations on equal terms between Latin American and European teams, in a multilateral and multilingual context of mutual training and sharing. The team has a majority of women. The research combining the material study of objects and investigations in archives will be carried out through case studies and workshops on crosscutting themes. It will feed into training seminars. A digital exhibition will communicate research results, in line with EU policy promoting the public understanding of science and citizen science.


Net EU contribution
€ 156 400,00
72085 Le Mans

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Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire Sarthe
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 156 400,00

Participants (10)

Partners (5)