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Research and Teaching

Note: Regular teaching and research at the collection is suspended during the pandemic until further notice. During this time, interested researchers should direct queries to


This collection supports researchers and students interested in using the material culture of science in their work. Researchers are welcome to contact us with inquires. Please first review the catalogue to see if we have what you are looking for, and contact erich.weidenhammer@

Students examine objects in a material culture workshop.


To request use of UTSIC photographs for a publication, please contact erich.weidenhammer@.


Artifacts can bring history alive! UTSIC facilitates opportunities for students at the university and others to get up close, touch, and investigate the material culture of science, technology and medicine of the University of Toronto. 

We loan objects to instructors, or our staff can be invited to visit classes with objects. For the latter, we typically offer two kinds of classes: workshops and lecture visits. We also occasionally do outreach events on campus, and in certain circumstances in certain circumstances can accommodate storage room tours. Availability is subject to the schedule of our staff.

Inquiries should be directed to Victoria Fisher.


What is it? Workshops are a hands-on material culture experiences for small classes. Working in small groups, students use material culture-derived methods to do close examination of an object in order to learn about it and make inferences about the context it comes from and the people who might have made and used it. Workshops are highly interactive and discussion-based, and, in collaboration with the lecturer, always tailored to the level and focus of the class.

Workshops are offered to small groups (generally no more than 30 people), and must take place in a classroom with large flat tables (not lecture rooms) and adequate space for all students. For best results, they require two hours.

Lecture Visits

We are always happy to bring artifacts to lecture rooms, and speak about them. We can talk about materiality, instruments and artifacts, the science they represent, and/or the historical contexts they come from. Students are always given opportunities to examine objects closely. Talks are tailored to fit the level of the students, the subject matter of the course, and can vary in length.

We are always open to special requests and combinations of the above. Please ask if you have something particular in mind.

Artifact Loans

We can also loan artifacts to instructors wishing to bring scientific instruments and materiality into their classes. If you are interested in loaning an object, please look through the catalogue to see the range of artifacts we have, and then make an inquiry. However, please note that safety concerns (radioactivity, asbestos, mercury etc.) and portability (delicate/very heavy objects) mean that not all objects are suitable for loan and we make decisions based on the specific situation.

We are in the process of creating a teaching collection which will identify particular pieces suited to the classroom that will be available for loan.

Objects from the Department of Physics displayed at the Physics Spring Reunion in 2017


Collection Storage Visits

On occasion, we facilitate tours of our storage facility to small groups (around 15 people maximum at any one time). Unfortunately, due to space and safety concerns, whether the collection can permit entry is decided on a case-by-case basis. Workshops and lecture visits are always held in a classroom elsewhere on campus.


We love taking our objects out of storage! We have regularly participated in U of T’s Science Rendezvous, where members of the public can examine some of our artifacts, and chat with our staff about our collection. Availability for events is decided according to staff availability.


Of course, you can always get a good look at our objects in our online catalogue, and we are able to answer questions and queries about them at