Foto: Oliver Zauzig
Foto: Oliver Zauzig
Kristallographische Lehrsammlung der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Material Models in Research and Teaching

Traditionally, models have been and are key scientific instruments in their dual role as the product and source of findings. However, to date there has not been a comprehensive historical account of all the material models used in the different branches of science. We plan to systematically record and document material models in university collections and to present them in a multimedia database of objects with decentralised access, thereby making a fundamental contribution to research on material culture in the sciences. 

University collections are ideally suited to this undertaking because they were created in the context of research and teaching, and the factual sources used have been preserved in most cases; moreover, they offer a representative selection of models across disciplines, types and periods. The documentation and analysis of university collections of models, which were previously unknown to the general public, will not only open up new and important sources for research in the history of science and cultural history. It will also raise public awareness of the importance of these objects as cultural assets that are worthy of protection.

Project Director: Dr. Cornelia Weber
Research Associates: David Luwig M.A.,Oliver Zauzig M.A
Student Assistants: Stefanie Bräuer, Moritz Neuffer
Freelance Associates: Martin Stricker M.A.


Cornelia Weber (2011): Material models as recorders of academic communities: A new project on university collections in Germany. In: University Museums and Collections Journal 4, p. 65–72.

David Ludwig, Cornelia Weber and Oliver Zauzig, eds. (2014): Das materielle Modell. Objektgeschichten aus der wissenschaftlichen Praxis. Paderborn.    

Time frame: since 2010 (project funding from 2010 until 2012)