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By Audrey Aidoo-Davies on

The makers of today and tomorrow

Ahead of Science City Lates on 26 February, Participation Assistant Audrey Aidoo-Davies discusses an exciting project she’s been running with curator Alexandra Rose and some young makers of today.

February’s Lates will be a celebration of all things Science City: The Linbury Gallery and we are excited to play host to some activities developed and run by Fellow, Freemen and Apprentices from the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers.

The Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers (WCSIM) was originally formed in 1956 at a time when science and manufacturing were a vital source of income for the UK economy. It is referred to as a livery company, a term that dates back to medieval times when different trades set up associations created to control the quality and pricing of a product.

One of the most important aspects of livery companies is their role in ensuring the continuance of trade through apprenticeships, training and upskilling. WCSIM was formed to further the craft of scientific instrument making through the sharing of ideas, networking and research. It now supports and encourages students to take up STEM subjects to bridge the current skills gap.

The Worshipful Company’s coat of arms – Newton and Faraday support the shield on which are found pyramidical cubes in the form of an optical illusion and above that, the head of Minerva. Credit: WCSIM.We first began working with members from the Worshipful Company in April 2018. The Science City team were keen to collaborate with them on this project as it was an opportunity to connect the scientific instruments of the past with young makers of today. Although we are now over 200 years past the timeline of the Science City gallery the idea of transferring skills through apprenticeships and the practice of scientific instrument making are still very active today.

In March last year as the project continued to develop, we went to Machines Room which is a maker-space that facilitates experimental ways of making, very different from what this particular group were used to. Participants had a chance to train on the machines and software that some makers of today are using. This experience added another element to the project by comparing the future of making to the scientific instruments and methods of making that they were seeing in the contents of Science City.

Participants at a Today’s Makers session with curators Alexandra Rose and Jane Desborough.

Over the course of the project, participants have had the chance to handle instruments from the gallery, access collections and specialist knowledge through our team of curators. Many discussions took place highlighting just how relevant the themes and discoveries of the gallery are to London today.

A primary aim of this participation project was to support participants and encourage upskilling. Working with the Academy, Cultural Events and Volunteer team we supported and trained the participants to a point that they have now fully developed their ideas and are ready to run sessions at our Lates.

Join our participants in February’s Science City Lates in Venus and the Science of Vision led by Lucy Hogarth, Vacuums Don’t Suck with Julian Philpott and Galilean Telescope: From Design to Image Quality led by Hussam Muhamesdsalih.