The ‘time capsules’ of science: Museums, collections and scientific heritage in Portugal
The term “museum” means different things in different periods, to be sure; nonetheless, over the past 250 years in Portugal the state failed in creating a national, sustainable museum of science. This essay analyzes, in broad terms, the context, relevance, and consequences of this absence for Portuguese scientific museums, collections, and heritage. It also discusses the implications for the history of science and, especially, for the public interpretation of the past. The term “museum of science” is used in a broad sense, encompassing museums with collections of scientific instruments, medicine, pharmacy, and natural history, including botanic gardens. Museums of technology and industry, however, are outside the scope of this discussion.