Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments
The core mission of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments (CHSI) is to preserve, document and care for over 20,000 instruments portraying the history of science teaching and research at Harvard University from the Colonial period to the 21st century. Through its web presence, lively exhibit and teaching programs plus increasing involvement in critical media practices, the CHSI’s research activities and cultural initiatives intersect and bring together a multiplicity of academic disciplines and areas of professional museum expertise. CHSI is both a specialized institution and an experimental space, where museum experts, instrument scholars plus Harvard faculty and students meet in the production of object-based knowledge.
Harvard University has been acquiring scientific instruments on a continuous basis for teaching and research since 1672. Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, which was established in 1948 to preserve this apparatus as a resource for teaching and research in the history of science and technology, has become one of the three largest university collections of its kind in the world. Originally associated with the Harvard library system, the Collection was placed under the stewardship of the Department of History of Science in 1987.