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Call for papers: Big machines in museum collections

We are looking for articles on large machines of various kinds in museum collections to be published in the peer reviewed open access journal Tekniikan Waiheita – The Finnish quarterly for the history of technology.

Machines are an integral part of our technological, industrialized world. Road vehicles, trains, ships, airplanes, and myriad industrial machines have a role in everyday life but can remain unrecognized and unknown. Museums can present the ongoing technological transformation through their collections, but also face the numerous challenges related to the maintenance and conservation of these big machines.

Keeping large machines in museum collections and exhibiting them to varied audiences presents many challenges that influence collections’ and exhibitions’ policies. The issue is well known and has been discussed at conferences. It has sprung an ongoing seminar series in Finland that aims to disseminate tacit knowledge and best practices. Still questions remain: how should a large machine be stored? How can the life cycle of a museum machine be secured economically, epistemologically, and practically? What to do, when the users of a large machine are no longer there to help the museum? How to engage the general public with a complex, specialized machine?

Tekniikan Waiheita journal delves the history of technology and industrial heritage through academic historical research, oral history of technology use, and museum work in preserving and presenting this cultural heritage. This special issue aims to collect and disseminate experiences, insight, and ideas on large machines in museums. Possible article topics are:

  • A large machine from collections and conservation perspective: priorities, policies, and resources.
  • The machine as an economic challenge to the museum: project funding, user organisation participation, public and private support, long term solutions in preservation.
  • Large machines from exhibition and public engagement perspective.
  • In working condition or not? How to proceed with a large machine and why? What should the museum consider in making this decision and why?
  • Large conservation projects: the many issues of conservation and maintenance of these machines.
  • From use into the museum collections: best practices and worst problems in the life cycle of a museum machine.
  • Machine know how: oral history, technical documents, and other sources in relation to the machines themselves.
  • Representing function: documenting use, virtual representations, models, practical presentations, and other ways of making the machine work in the museum.
  • The machine as museum: industrial sites, very large machines, and other technological giants as functional heritage sites.

The scope of this special issue is wide. All complex machines are considered regardless of their use. No temporal limitations are given as long as existing or possible machines in museum collections are discussed. The machines themselves can be or artisanal make, industrial, or specialized one-offs. Both empirical and theoretical approaches are welcome. Writers may be asked to participate as peer reviewers also in the interests of knowledge dissemination.

Proposals of no more than 400 words are to be sent to the editorial council member, Aaro Sahari ( by April 1st 2020. Accepted article proposals will go through a double blind peer review according to Federation of Finnish Learned Societies guidelines. Maximum length for articles is 10 000 words. Drafts are due by October 1st 2020. The special issue will be published in March 2021. For further information, consult the Journal website.

Tekniikan Waiheita is the sole peer reviewed history of technology quarterly in the Nordic Countries. It is published as Diamond Open Access online and ranked on level 1 on the Finnish academic Publication Forum. The journal is published by the Finnish Society for the History of Technology.


Federation of Finnish Learned Societies guidelines.

Publication Forum.

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