Out the Door: A Short History of the University of Toronto Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments

Spontaneous Generations 4 (1):255-261 (2010)
Abstract
Since the late 1970s, various attempts have been made to organize the scientific instruments used in research carried out at the University of Toronto into a catalogued, protected, and accessible collection. Unlike other major research universities with which Toronto compares itself, such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge, to name only a few, these efforts have not been successful. The failure to implement even a modest campus-wide program to safeguard the university's material heritage has had unfortunate consequences. Nevertheless, a great deal of material survives. In the following paper, we examine the circumstances of the historical instruments at the University of Toronto. We argue that this university's scientific instruments are an essential piece of its identity and history. Finally, we propose a practical bottom up approach through which the current collection can be stabilized and secured (with new instruments added) so that future students can reflect on today's research with the benefit of a rich and well-documented collection
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