People and their Past

Alan Machin
1979, Vol. 12, No. 1,


This view of museums and educational work on the development of technology sees the various elements in a broad context. The writer is now responsible to the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale for developing a specialised tourist industry in a traditionally textile manufacturing part of Yorkshire. Visitor centres, trails, interpretative panels are there being considered in order to communicate something of the area's pride in its own past to the general visitor. A conclusion is drawn in the case of museums that they share some of the characteristics of the mass-media, and it should be recognised that museums interpret history from a particular viewpoint in the same way that a newspaper or television commentator does. The author was previously on the staff of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust with responsibility' for some of the interpretation.

Power, moving through well-oiled machinery, is symbolic of technology. The development of industry has usually been seen to follow technical lines, and to quote one example, the achievement of railway locomotive design between the wars has been viewed as the outcome of improvements. This must be too limited a view - yet one which is still held. A strong case can be made out for seeing 'Silver Link' and 'Mallard' in the light of rival groups of railway shareholders: or the competition between the new airlines and railways; or the influence of streamlined forms on the design of objects moving at high speed.

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