Renewing the Heritage of Chemistry in the 21st Century: Conversations on the Preservation, Presentation and Utilization of Sources, Sites and Artefacts
A Symposium of the Commission on the History of Modern Chemistry (CHMC)  in Conjunction with the IUPAC-UNESCO International Year of Chemistry, 2011
We invite all those interested in the heritage of chemistry in the 20th and 21st centuries, including historians, chemists, archivists, museum curators, librarians, and industrial archaeologists, to join us in Paris on 21-24 June 2011 for a symposium involving conversations among experts from many different perspectives. Our intention is to present not only the views of historians on how best to use the sources, sites and artefacts of chemistry in the contemporary era, but also the views of those concerned with the technical problems related to the preservation and presentation to historians and the general public of those sources, sites, and artefacts. To this end we invite interested colleagues to submit proposals for papers that can be presented at one of several sessions in the symposium. Submissions may pertain to a wide range of topics and may address any of the questions outlined in the following circular.
The goal of the proposed symposium, to be held in Paris in the centenary year of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry awarded to Marie Curie, is to bring together a wide range of experts to discuss the challenges associated with understanding, preserving, and presenting the heritage of chemistry in the 21st century.
We have entered an era in which new scientific ideas and new technologies have changed not only the face of chemistry itself – which has become a highly diversified discipline and profession –, but also the nature of the sources for its future history. Along with the paper documents, oral histories, instruments, and other artefacts that have previously embodied the heritage of chemistry we now need to include sources and artefacts that represent the chemistry of the present and future, including electronic documents, images, videos, databases, software, and the hardware needed to preserve and use these sources.
Besides the preservation and use of these materials, historians must also be increasingly concerned with the preservation of key sites associated with the heritage of chemistry, including academic and industrial research laboratories as well as centres of technological innovation, because the historical development of scientific and technological innovations may often be most clearly understood by seeing the original apparatus and equipment in their original settings.
This raises the further question: how can the specialists and institutions concerned with the heritage of modern chemistry, including industrial archaeologists, best present critical sources, sites and artefacts to the general public, in ways that will highlight key developments and avoid misconceptions?
In view of the rapid development of current technologies and the many challenges that they present, the organizers wish to engage specialists from different national, professional and institutional backgrounds in conversations that may help to produce constructive and ongoing interactions among all concerned.
We will therefore welcome the participation of a broad range of experts concerned with the heritage of chemistry.
These should include historians of science and technology; curators, industrial archaeologists, and directors of public and private museums and cultural sites as well as directors and staff of libraries and archives of all kinds, including those in industrial settings; experts in electronic media concerned with the heritage of chemistry; and of course chemists in all types of institutions.
Ultimately we hope to promote a better understanding of how best to deal with the current and future challenges for shaping the heritage of chemistry in a new era.