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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

Short film: Séance: A View through the Veil

When: August 2021—launch date TBC
Where: Online—details TBC

Dr Nik Taylor and Ashton Carter will 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.

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

Radio documentary: Mental Radio

When: September 2021—broadcast date TBC
Where: Resonance FM

Produced by Aleks Kowalski and kitt price, Mental Radio is a documentary montage telling the story of radio telepathy experiments in the 1920s and 30s. The programme will include an opportunity for listeners to participate.

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

Café Scientifique: Fairies Photographed! The Cameo Camera and the Case of the Cottingley Fairies

With Professor Christine Ferguson

When: 18.30, Thursday 30 September 2021
Where: TBC

The National Science and Media Museum’s collection includes several objects relating to the famous ‘Cottingley Fairies’ photographs. In this talk, Professor Christine Ferguson, Chair in English Studies at the University of Stirling and Principal Investigator on the Media of Mediumship project, will discuss what they can tell us about the relationship between technological innovation and alternative spiritual belief in modern Britain.

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

Read more about Café Scientifique

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

Date: October 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.

Workshop: What Noise Do Ghosts Make?

When: October 2021—event date TBC
Where: National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

A fun family workshop produced by Ashton Carter Magic and Dr Nik Taylor—part of Bradford Science Festival 2021. 

More information and ticket details will be added to this page when the event date is confirmed.

Read more about Bradford Science Festival

Sound installation: The Laboratory of Psychic Science

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

The Laboratory of Psychic Science is a new sound installation produced by Aleks Kowalksi, 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

talk: Making the Invisible Visible: Occultists and X-Ray Technologies

With Emma Merkling

When: 18.00, Wednesday 24 November 2021
Where: TBC

As part of the Science Museum’s Lates, this talk by Media of Mediumship team member Emma Merkling of the Courtauld Institute of Art will explore the occult histories of X-ray technology in Britain. How was radiography’s piercing ‘eye’ used by occultists—and their challengers—to see through external appearances and reveal hidden realities?

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

Read more about 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: TBC

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.

More information and ticket details will be added to this page 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


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