A rediscovery of scientific collections as material heritage? The case of university collections in Germany

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The purpose of this article is twofold: on the one hand, we present the outlines of a history of university collections in Germany. On the other hand, we discuss this history as a case study of the changing attitudes of the sciences towards their material heritage. Based on data from 1094 German university collections, we distinguish three periods that are by no means homogeneous but offer a helpful starting point for a discussion of the entangled institutional and epistemic factors in the history of university collections. In the 19th century, university collections were institutionalized and widely recognized as indispensable in research and teaching. During the 20th century, university collection became increasingly marginalized both on an institutional and theoretical level. Towards the end of the 20th century, the situation of university collections improved partly because of their reconsideration as material heritage
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