Modelling innovation and 'improvement': the histories and geographies of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland's models collection

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Science and Engineering


This collaborative PhD project, in formal partnership with National Museums Scotland (NMS), reanimates an under-researched collection of over 300 models of agricultural tools, machines and infrastructure that was created and displayed by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland in the first half of the 19th century, before being transferred to what later became NMS. The collection, assembled between 1790 and 1866, connected the Society with many other actors and communities, from urban engineers to landowners, agriculturalists, workers, artisans and innovators in rural Lowlands and Highlands and beyond.

Research questions include:
Why was the collection originally assembled and what meanings did it and the Society's museum have for its curators, officers and visitors?
What practices, people and places are represented by the models? E.g.
networks linking industrial production and agricultural practice, urban and rural areas and Scotland with other parts of the world?
patterns of activity, innovation and collaboration?
changes to economic life and local environments?
To what uses has the collection been put since being transferred to NMS, and what has been the impact of display or classification within different kinds of museum or subject area?
How is the collection used today and how might its potential be realised for researchers and visitors in the future?


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