2023-2024 / HAAR0144-1

Museums of sciences and techniques


45h Th, 2d FT Tr. Pr.

Number of credits

 Master in history of art and archaeology : general (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in history of art and archaeology : general (60 ECTS)5 crédits 


Philippe Tomsin


Philippe Tomsin

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

The teaching focuses on the museums of science and technology, both in Belgium and abroad.

The teaching concerns the movable and semi-movable heritage of museums of science, technology and industry (historical scientific apparatus, tools, weapons, industrial machines, etc.).

During the first part, by way of introduction, and in order to put these heritages into their historical context, the main concepts and facts of the history of science and technology are quickly remembered.

Then, the varieties of display of these heritages are reviewed, not only through the various forms of museums, but also through less conventional exhibitions (factories visits, public events, toxic tourism, etc.).

After a quick historical overview of the interest for the material heritage of the museums of science, technology and industry, their varieties and their specificities, the materials used in their construction, the various degradations which concern them and the ways to preserve them are successively reviewed.

Various specific questions related to the practical management of collections are discussed (inventory, metrology, photography, handling, display, conditions for a correct preservation, storage, special legislation on military heritage, etc.).

Finally, the risks (asbestos, ionizing materials, explosives, etc.) related with the management and the display of the material heritage of museums of science, technology and industry and the means to preserve health are reviewed.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The purpose of this teaching is to give students a solid basic knowledge in the field of scientific or technological conservation. Basically, the goal is to draw students' attention to the main issues relating to conservation, either to effectively preserve artefacts and documents or to prepare temporary or permanent exhibitions.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

No prior knowledge is required. However, an interest for history of science, history of technology or history of industry facilitates the understanding of most studied problematics.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Lectures will be richly illustrated with photos (Power Point) and videos.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

The lectures (30 hours during the second term) are given Saturdays, as six hours blocks (three before noon and three after).

Recommended or required readings

A bibliography of key references is given, as well as the photos and videos shown during class (everything will be provided in digital form).

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( multiple-choice questionnaire, open-ended questions )

Additional information:

In view of the specificity and variety of problematics, a written exam offers a more unbiased evaluation.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course



Association of one or more MOOCs

There is no MOOC associated with this course.