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The Media of Mediumship

Discover a programme of online events, live talks and more as part of The Media of Mediumship, a project exploring the relationship between science, technology and occultism in modern Britain.

Using objects from the collections of the Science Museum Group and Senate House Library, these events will uncover how believers and sceptics alike have used new technologies—including photography, wireless transmission, telegraphy and tape recorders—to test, affirm or debunk the existence of an unseen world.

All events are free and open to everyone.

What’s on

Family Workshop: What Noise Do Ghosts Make?

When: 10.00–16.00, Wednesday 27 October 2021
Where: National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

Do ghosts actually make a noise? History is filled with people who claim to have created inventions to help us ‘hear’ ghosts. Come and try some of these devices as we explore how sound is made and try our hand at being ghosts and ghostbusters!

This fun drop-in workshop, part of our Science of Sound events, is suitable for families with children aged 7+. Please note: all ghosts will be simulated and no actual spirits will be used in the demonstrations!

Read more about Bradford Science Festival

Radiophonic Montage: Mental Radio

When: 19.00, Sunday 31 October 2021
Where: Resonance FM

Aleksander Kolkowski and kitt price will recreate the experience of ’thinking-in’, when thousands of listeners engaged in radio telepathy experiments during the 1920s and 30s. British and American parapsychologists insisted that broadcasting was simply a means to access minds in the mass, but European investigators claimed they had captured the sound of ‘brain waves’ using radio equipment.

Radio drama: Radio from the Dark Side: A Trilogy of Terror!

Date: November 2021—launch date TBC
Where: BBC Radio Suffolk

A Trilogy of Terror! will present three brand new audio plays featuring the adventures of Zachariah Jaeger, journalist and investigator of the paranormal. Based on fiction held in the Harry Price Library, the plays adapt neglected masterpieces of the weird and uncanny by John Metcalf, Christopher Blayre and Arthur Conan Doyle. Produced by Professor Richard Hand in collaboration with the National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre.

More information will be added to this page when the launch date is confirmed.

Sound installation: The Laboratory of Psychical Research

When: 13–16 November 2021
Where: Court Room, Senate House, London

The Laboratory of Psychical Research is a new sound installation produced by Aleksander Kolkowski, kitt price and Laurence Cliffe as part of the Being Human festival. This event will also include an app launch and live performance.

More information and ticket details will be added to this page closer to the event date.

Visit the Being Human website

Live talk: The Occult History of the X-ray

With Emma Merkling

When: Time TBC, Wednesday 24 November 2021
Where: Science Museum, London

As part of the Science Museum’s Lates, this talk by Media of Mediumship team member and cultural historian Emma Merkling will explore the ghostly history of radiography. How did Victorian scientists like William Crookes think X-rays could reveal the hidden spirit world?

More information and tickets for Lates at the Science Museum

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

With Dr Efram Sera-Shriar

When: 18.30, Thursday 27 January 2022
Where: At the National Science and Media Museum and online

William Hope was once a respected medium in Britain’s spiritualist community—but all that changed in 1922, when he was exposed as a fraud by a team led by the famous psychical researcher Harry Price. A major debate over the legitimacy of Hope’s alleged spirit photography ensued. This talk will explore the story using material from the Senate House Library and Science Museum Group collections.

This will be a ‘hybrid’ event, taking place both at the museum and online—the talk will be given live in the Café and also broadcast on Zoom. Tickets will be available closer to the event date.

Read more about Café Scientifique

Watch past events online

Online lecture: Spiritualism, Photography and the Search for Ectoplasm

With Shannon Taggart

Award-winning photographer Shannon Taggart discussed the history of spirit photography and its influence on her own documentary work with the Lily Dale Spiritualist Assembly, recently published in her book Séance.

Watch the lecture on YouTube

Short film: Séance: A View through the Veil

When: 18.00, Tuesday 21 September 2021
Where: Online via Zoom

Dr Nik Taylor and Ashton Carter bring their theatrical experience Séance: A View Through the Veil to film for the first time! Watch as they recreate a selection of spirit contact vignettes, revealing the thinking behind some of the most popular methods of the day.

Watch the short film on YouTube

About the project

The Media of Mediumship is a one-year project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which aims to examine the relationship between science, technology, and occultism in modern Britain, using the unique collections of the Science Museum Group and Senate House Library to explore the entangled histories of human belief, perception, trust, and scientific evidence as experienced through sight and sound.

Over a series of talks, events, and creative performances, the project will tell the story of how unorthodox spiritual believers and sceptics alike have used new technologies and scientific instruments—photography, wireless transmission, telegraphy, tape recorders—to test, affirm, or debunk the existence of an unseen world. In so doing, the project will deliver original curatorial perspectives on collection materials whose occult histories of use have long been unknown or misunderstood.

The project is based at the University of Stirling and produced in collaboration with the Science Museum Group and Senate House Library, and follows on from the AHRC Popular Occulture in Britain, 1875–1947 project. It is led by Professor Christine Ferguson, University of Stirling, and Dr Efram Sera-Shriar, Science Museum Group.

To read more about each of the events, please visit the Media of Mediumship project website. You can also find more content on Twitter and YouTube.

Main image: Detail from ‘A séance’, William Hope, c.1920, Science Museum Group Collection

Part of the Science Museum Group