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Café Scientifique

Join us for an evening discussion event at the museum and online. Everyone’s welcome to help us explore the latest ideas in science and technology.

Next event

The next event will take place on Thursday 27 January 2022 from 18.30. This will be a ‘hybrid’ event, taking place both at the museum and online—the talk will be given live in the Café and will also be broadcast on Zoom. When you book free tickets, you will be able to choose which version of the event you would like to attend.

Caught on Camera: Reflections on William Hope and the Crewe Circle Spirit Photographs

Dr Efram Sera-Shriar

During the opening decades of the 20th century, William Hope was a well-respected medium among the spiritualist community in Britain, with positive endorsements from major scientific figures such as the chemist William Crookes and the author and physician Arthur Conan Doyle. He was often seen as one of the few mediums to be able to produce authentic spirit photographs.

However, all that changed in late February 1922 when a team of investigators led by the famous British psychical researcher Harry Price claimed to have caught Hope cheating during one of his sittings and discovered that he was swapping blank photographic plates with ones containing existing images that appeared to be depictions of spirit entities. Hope was publicly exposed as a fraud, and what ensued was a major debate between believers and sceptics over the legitimacy of the medium’s alleged spirit photography.

Using surviving materials from the Senate House Library and Science Museum Group collections, including photographs, private correspondence, published sources and camera technologies, this talk will explore this story, and reflect on what makes for trustworthy evidence in investigations of extraordinary phenomena.

What you need to know

  • This event is free, but booking is required
  • Donations are welcome! You can donate online 
  • Café Scientifique is suitable for all ages and abilities, but some events may have adult themes or content

Information for online attendees

Image gallery

Future events

What is Café Scientifique?

Café Scientifique is a friendly and collaborative exploration of the latest breakthroughs in science. You’ll hear about, discuss and debate some of the most recent advances and discoveries in science and healthcare, and their importance to society.

Each event has a theme—they’ve included everything from the latest in physics to the science of music, from nanotechnology to biology.

Café Scientifique is a great way to meet new people and exercise your mind. Discuss the discoveries you’ve seen in the headlines, or learn something completely new.

Keep up to date—follow Café Scientifique on Facebook and Twitter.

Part of the Science Museum Group